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This Week in Legacy: The Daze of Delver

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be diving into some recent statements made by Wizards of the Coast on a surprise (Banned and Restricted (BnR) announcement for Pioneer regarding Legacy. We're also going to poke at a few more Commander Legends cards that we missed last week and also look at two Challenges from this past weekend.

I was on vacation the first part of this week so that's why this article is a little late, but it worked out nicely to talk about these comments on Legacy BnR.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

A Legacy Response for BnR

This past week gave us an interesting addition to a Banned and Restricted announcement that wasn't even for Legacy. A Pioneer banning came down the pipe in this announcement, however, Wizards also took some time to address a few other formats as well, one of which was Legacy. I'm not going to bother paraphrasing this statement, but instead have screenshotted it below so that we can start to unpack all of this.

So first off, let's talk about the monkey in the room here and that's not Ragavan, but rather the statement on win rates. As evidenced by the last announcement for BnR (which banned Ragavan) the number cited was based on League data (which is data that as a community we have very little access to overall due to how curated it is) and it was stated at that time the non-mirror win rate was at 56% and the UR Delver deck had twice as many trophies as the next top deck. I suspect this statement made here is rooted in a similar place of looking far more at League data than they are at Challenges and the like, due to the fact that it is more likely that there is far more League data available overall to Wizards than there is Challenge data, as more matches are played in Leagues in general. This leads me to suspect that a lot of changes are going to be based on that understanding.

If we look at the most recent combined sheet data for Challenges, we can get a good picture of where UR Delver currently is sitting in that data set. As of right now, the current win rate in the Challenge data set (which goes back to 1/29/2022, the first event weekend after the banning) is at around 54.3% for non-mirrors. Now let's put that into some major perspective here. While 54.3% doesn't seem like a huge deal, the Challenge win rates of the deck during Ragavan's era were roughly the same or around 52-53% for non-mirror win rate and that environment warranted a ban for sure. This is a deck that currently has a 20.5% metagame share in the Combined Data sheet at 802 decks. We have a healthy enough sample size here to definitely state that the true win rates is in the 51%-56% range, and what actually brings that down is greater representation. It's worth noting that the more players on UR Delver, the more the win rate of the deck can normalize to closer to 50% because well, one player has to win and the other has to lose. Those metagames are obviously not healthy either and end up on the exact extreme where looking solely at win rates is not worth it. Even now, looking primarily at win rates is not going to give the whole picture, but instead we have to take that into account alongside metagame representation, play patterns, and diversity within the format as to whether a change does need to be made. There are certainly multiple factors to this.

A big part of the response to this statement is the fact that UR Delver's popularity has continued to be very high and has functionally warped the format around it's very existence, which has been reasonably true for nearly every bit of Legacy's existence since the printing of the card Delver of Secrets, with exceptions to be made for things like Top Miracles and Underworld Breach that players are simply becoming tired of it. This is basically the biggest issue with the current state of the format is that players are tired of Delver's perceived dominance.

Now, there is some truth to their statement about other macro-archetypes appearing that are capable of attacking the Delver shell. Death and Taxes, Lands archetypes (including traditional and 8Mulch variants), Depths variants, and even Jeskai Control have all popped up to combat Delver on some form of a different axis, and even Reanimator has had its spiky events here or there. This is the nature of a large eternal format like this that allows for these things to happen regardless of the perceived top deck, because Legacy does often allow for all sorts of random stuff to be played. I do believe the format allows better random stuff to be played right now (and we've seen some incredibly spicy lists here or there doing well) as long as that random stuff is packing something that attacks the Delver shell. We've seen decks with multiple copies of Blast effects (not just for Delver but also for 8Cast, so let's be clear about that because the big Turtle is a thing) and also decks playing cards like Carpet of Flowers main deck. In fact, one of the big selling points of Jeskai Control is all in on the fact that not only is it getting access to Blast effects, but it also has Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending, and the Uro decks simply don't have that without dipping into four-five colors which becomes greedy on the manabase. This gives Jeskai a lot of removal options towards Delver in general to handle their threats. We've also seen some decks like Red Stompy show back up due to the fact that cards like Chalice, Blood Moon, and the new toys the deck has gotten with stuff like Unlicensed Hearse make for a good way to attack Delver specifically, and the amount of Prismatic Ending in the format is letting that deck have a chance.

As far as I am concerned, there do still need to be some adjustments to the format, and I would be okay with seeing cards like Murktide Regent and Expressive Iteration axed from the format. The same Ban Announcement here banned Iteration in both Pioneer and Explorer, and I do firmly think that a lot of the same arguments could be applied to Iteration in formats like Legacy for the sheer amount of card selection and advantage it provides to the UR Delver shell. I would much more prefer Delver being forced to dip back into third colors in the future as a requirement, as I have found those matchups to be far more interesting and fun due to that tension of being able to cut them off of a color in places, and that simply does not happen in UR Delver currently. I would like to see a return to that personally. I'm also personally not a big fan of Delve (as I have been on record before) on big proactive threats and spells, especially ones that don't require an extra hoop to jump through. Murktide rewards the player for simply playing the cards they were already going to be playing, and rewards them further when it's already on board because of its additional ability that makes it bigger when you exile cards. Especially with the upcoming printing of stuff like Sailors' Bane, I would much more prefer Murktide to be gone and force players back to a card like Ethereal Forager (which has always felt like a reasonably fair card because it dies to a lot of stuff including Lightning Bolt).

In the end, the reins of the BnR is still solely in Wizards' hands, and I do still believe that a success thus far of the Pauper Format Panel means we will eventually possibly see something similar for a format such as Legacy, and that would help alleviate some of the communitys's major concerns which I definitely believe to be things like transparency of data and long wait times of statements such as these that having some sort of other body involved would help in a regular monitoring of the format. That being said, I do believe Wizards still does want to help curate Legacy, but I do believe they want to see if Legacy can regulate itself on a more long term nature than to make changes every six months or so. I don't know if we are there yet with doing that, but it seems like Wizards currently believes that to be true. At the very least, we are not currently in a spot where Challenge attendance seems to be suffering, and Legacy paper events are at an all time high since things are progressing through the ongoing pandemic.

More Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Cards!

We had some more Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate stuff to look at, especially with the advent of the Commander Precon only cards as well. So let's take a look and see what we missed!

Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

There has definitely been some minor chatter on this, given that it can create a creature and sac it for a value Fling effect with the -2 (such as flinging a Marit Lage, etc) or it can grant some buffs to things with haste. The bigger issue with this card is that at four mana with a triggered ability on ETB the likelihood of this being bolted with the trigger on the stack leaving you with a 1/1 is pretty high. I'd be curious if this goes anywhere, but I'm guessing it won't.

Deep Gnome Terramancer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Just like Archivist of Oghma, this card is pretty bad and doesn't really go anywhere, especially not into D&T.

Aboleth Spawn

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is the most adorable card versus Aluren in general because it pretty much negates their entire combo. Very amusing!

Delayed Blast Fireball

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

What I think I like about this is the fact that this is an instant speed Pyroclasm that becomes a 5 damage spell if you cast if from exile, which you can do with cards like Expressive Iteration to only have to pay three mana for it. Is a three mana Pyroclasm with possible upside playable? Not sure. Foretell does help if you can late game cast it, but six mana is also a lot. Worth seeing if this is good enough though. Instant speed might just be enough to push it over the top for sure.

Green Slime

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The fact that this can Stifle a Living Weapon trigger off Batterskull or a Jitte trigger and destroy the card in the process is pretty good. It's not destroying Kaldra any time soon but Stifling the Living Weapon trigger is often good enough in those situations. Furthermore, since this thing costs three it can be hit off Collected Company, and the Foretell cost is very reasonable. This could definitely see play in places as it also answers Urza's Saga triggers too while also destroying it.

4Seasons Bologna

I just wanted to touch base on this briefly, because a full write up is coming on this once we have all the data on it, but 4Seasons Bologna had their big summer weekend this past weekend in Bologna, Italy. Their Legacy events were insanely stacked with players, with the main Legacy event boasting over 300+ players! Crazy! I'm really looking forward to the data from this one, as one of our Data Collector folks RonColpoCinese attends these events and gets us the scoop on them, so hopefully either next week or the week after we will have a good write up on these events.

Legacy Challenge 6/4

Our first Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 60 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 datasheet here.

Big amount of UR Delver here in both representation and win percentages, while Jeskai Control was the next highest. Jeskai did quite well as well as did D&T and Red Stompy. Despite a Top 8 appearance by Elves, the deck's overall win rate wasn't very good.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Control 1st Ozymandias17
UR Delver 2nd Bullwinkkle6705
Enchantress 3rd moro66
Death and Taxes 4th yoshiwata
UR Delver 5th Baku_91
Elves 6th Testacular
UR Delver 7th varal
Jeskai Control 8th zhinonono

Very interesting Top 8 here for sure. Some Delver and some Elves, and Jeskai as well. At the end of the event it was none other than Matt Vook on Jeskai Control.

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I really like the Mentor builds of the Jeskai decks. They seem incredibly strong with Expressive Iteration. In addition, The Wandering Emperor is such a sweet card in general.

In Second Place we've got UR "Delver".

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Okay there are no actual Delvers in this list, and instead we get to see stuff like Predict as additional copies of Expressive Iteration (which works really well with Dragon's Rage Channeler). This is definitely a very strong list overall.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by Enchantress!

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Helm/Rest in Peace combo is super sweet here, giving this deck a combo finish that just wins the game on the spot, and main deck Rest in Peace is actually really reasonable against a good number of decks right now most notably UR Delver because of their reliance on the graveyard for stuff like DRC and Murktide. Sweet list for sure!

I mentioned Elves before, which happened to be our good friend Testacular on the deck!

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Main deck Progenitus is super sweet here for sure. The other big sideboard stuff here is Snuff Out and Murderous Cut as ways to cost-efficiently remove a Murktide. Very cool!

Legacy Challenge 6/5

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event, which had 82 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.

UR Delver had a solid representation and win rate in this event, as did 8Cast. Depths Combo variants (primarily Mono Black) had a good representation but a fair to middling win rate, while The EPIC Storm also had a reasonable win rate too.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
GW Depths 1st alopcas
UR Delver 2nd Baku_91
Mono Black Depths 3rd medvedev
8Cast 4th koko_lopez
Yorion Zenith 5th kauffj
UR Delver 6th silviawataru
Blue Karn/Artifacts 7th markdm
UR Delver 8th v001

Very interesting Top 8 here for sure. At the end of the event, it was GW Depths that took it all down!

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This shell is super powerful and really fun to play. I definitely would recommend it to people interested in this kind of play style. The sideboard splash for red for blasts is pretty much required at the moment, but it's very good and answers a lot of things.

The Second Place finalist was on UR Delver.

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Only one Delver in this version here, with some number of options like Stifle and Force of Negation as well. You can definitely tell they were planning for Depths because of the Submerge in the sideboard here, but that doesn't do much against the Mono Black Depths variants really.

Speaking of Mono Black Depths, we had one in this Top 8.

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This deck does seem very powerful. Going deeper on discard effects at a time when Veil of Summer is at a low seems very strong, and both Dauthi Voidwalker and Opposition Agent seem very good.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by Yorion Zenith.

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Lot of fun options here for splashing into all five colors. Very greedy for sure, but stuff like Uro and Omnath help make up for that quite a bit.

Around the Web

  • We have a sweet video on Glimpse Elementals! Check it out here.
  • Phil Gallagher and Dauthi Helm. Name a better combination! Check it out here.
  • Eternal Durdles has their Commander Legends set review! Check it out here.
  • Eternal Glory Podcast has another banger of a cast on deduction in Magic! Check it out here.
  • IN RESPONSE also has a new episode available. Check that out here.
  • Our good friend Nathan Lipetz wrote a great primer on Oops! All Spells. Check that out here.

The Spice Corner

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

Slogurk is super sweet!

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Soldier Stompy without the Tombs! Aether Vial instead!

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Umori Artifact is pretty daggone sweet.

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Carnage Tyrant. The end.

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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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