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This Week in Legacy: The EOY 2020 Legacy Round Table


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 diving back into the Legacy Round Table, the final one of these of 2020. This one is pretty stacked, so be prepared for how awesome it is. In addition to that, I've got 10 more decks of 2020, plus a look at the two Challenges from this weekend (with a new slant on how we're presenting the metagame too) and as always our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right into the thick of things!

The EOY 2020 Legacy Round Table

We're winding down on 2020, so I thought it would be a good idea to gather the Round Table once more to talk about the Legacy format a little bit. As always, these are just open calls I put out to the community to join in these, and this one is most assuredly the largest group of people the entire year, and at the end of the day I feel that's great because it shows that there are plenty of Legacy Community members that are truly invested in the format, and we're going out of 2020 with a real banger of a Round Table at this point.

So, let's meet our participants for this Round Table:

Well, that is certainly an impressive list of people, so this should be a pretty awesome and wild ride, so let's dive right into each of the topics for this Round Table.

Topic #1 - How do you feel about Legacy currently? Is the format currently healthy?

Matthew Vook: I think the format is fine right now, but kind of stale. RUG Delver and 4C Snow are clearly the best decks in the format, and the gameplay with and against them isn’t particularly interesting compared to prior iterations of Delver decks and blue control. It feels like the games are just based on slamming haymakers and then generating value off of them while killing or countering nearly everything that the opponent does. The cards just generate value so quickly that even the fair matchups feel a lot faster than they did previously. Basically the only other viable Delver deck is UR Delver and it’s gameplay feels basically the same as RUG Delver. There is 4C Miracles and Pokepile as variants of 4C Snow Control but they also have basically the same play patterns.

I enjoyed prior metas where there were multiple viable Delver decks (Grixis, RUG, BUG, UR) and Blue Control decks (UWx Miracles and Grixis) and they all felt different in their gameplay and they all had different strengths and weaknesses. The gameplay of the current blue decks just feels too similar, the gameplay isn’t good or interesting, and they are too good compared to the rest of the format. There are a few other viable decks in the format but you have to get lucky in the matchup lottery for them to be a better choice than the blue decks. 

In Response: With these powerful cards printed in 2019/2020 the format moved heavily away from the play patterns back in 2018. We think we have to move on from the romantic vision of the format directly after the Deathrite Shaman ban.

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Overall the “new” Legacy format, we have these days, is really healthy and diverse, but just different than it was before. With that we do not mean that it is bad now, just that the format all together has to evolve from time to time.

PVDH: Overall I’d say that Legacy is in a decent to good spot. A large number of what I would consider the ‘pillars of the format’ are right where I’d like them. Delver, Blue Control, and Death & Taxes are all viable fair options; and I believe that it’s correct for a good pilot of Depths, Storm, Show & Tell, Hogaak or other combo decks, to choose that deck for a tournament. I also feel that I can freely experiment with alternative strategies without feeling completely out of a chance to win. The biggest card that does form an issue on this front, in my experience, is Uro - but more on that later. For me these assessments mean that Legacy is in a good spot, especially the potential to do well with brews is important to me, and that has seemed true.

That being said, I do believe that there might be too many decks that run away with the game when they get ahead. This wasn’t something most decks had access to in the past, Delver had to get you dead or fall behind on card quality/-advantage, control decks had to allocate every resource appropriately, etc. Though decks that snowballed ahead did exist, it was a lot less common. I’m not sure how bad this is for the format overall, as it just changes how games play out (generally shortening the relevant part of them), but does change the way we have to look at Legacy games. I think there is good design space to get the format back on track in this regard (e.g. mana efficient catch-all answers/sweepers), but the recent history of card design hasn’t favored answers over threats.

I do also want to address that creature-based Chalice of the Void decks have fallen out of the format in general, but I personally don’t think this is necessarily bad for the format. I have fond memories of playing with decks like Eldrazi Stompy, yet I think we can move on from a subsection of decks that won (or lost) most of their games based on the configuration of their opening hand.

Thomas Hepp: Personally, I am enjoying Legacy right now.  That is likely a short-term thing though since I’ve been enjoying the latest iteration of Depths that has some unique play to it.  The overall play patterns of legacy are a little too snowball oriented for my tastes with far too much 6-8 Forces plus a card that runs away with the game if not dealt with immediately like DHA, Oko, or Uro. 

The format is in a place where depending on your relationship with it, it may appear fine.  If your general access points are Magic Online leagues, paper Discord, or similar style events, there is likely a decent amount of diversity and players experimenting with new cards after each release.  Many people will stick with their preferred decks or strategies because winning is not the only thing that matters to a lot of Legacy players.  From that vantage point, Legacy could easily come off as being open and interesting.  If you are mainly participating in Challenges, Showcase events, and other similar hyper competitive events, a different picture becomes clear.  To me, the two best decks/strategies are RUG Delver and one of the variations of Snow.  The only deck that is even close to cracking that duo is Death and Taxes.  If you are not an absolute top tier D&T player or a deck specialist, you are likely making a mistake by not playing RUG Delver or Snow in a major event if the primary goal is to win the tournament.  When it’s almost always objectively a mistake to run anything else because two choices stand head and shoulders above everything else for an extended period of time far beyond when the meta could theoretically adjust, there is an issue.

Lee Hung Nguyen:  I think Legacy is great right now, although it is overwhelmed by the top strategies like Snowko and RUG Delver. What we see is the result of WotC experimenting with powerful cards and strategies within the game (and it’s splashing over to eternal formats as well). One thing to note is this: Wizards of the Coast controls the rules. They can make up anything they want. So they are really heavily experimenting with that, with these expansion sets. And Legacy / Vintage (and sometimes Modern), is the formats to take advantage of that and the synergies that come along with it. So it starts to feel like it’s wildly changing every few months (when previously, Legacy did not. The meta moved slow, because the defined decks and brewing wasn’t so evident in the past). This has made people uncomfortable. But for people like me, I love the carnage.

Personally, I do dislike the power level of certain pushed colors that have warped the competitive metagame, but people will ALWAYS find a way around it. And it just adds to the fun.

TL:DR; Legacy is great at the moment. Just need to brew harder to beat the top

Chris Banuchi: I love Legacy right now. Death and Taxes is back at Tier 1. Goblins, Oops All Spells, and Doomsday have become competitive in 2020. Chalice of the Void, Green Sun's Zenith, Griselbrand, Tendrils of Agony, Hogaak, and Marit Lage are all still relevant. Legacy feels healthy and fun.

James Johns: I actually think the metagame looks alright. I think that there are a lot of solid and viable strategies across a number of archetypes and interplay between a lot of them is interesting. I think Delver is overrepresented but this has been a problem since before the top ban and is unlikely to change any time soon. I think blue-based control has homogenized slightly as most people are moving into one of the greedy snow archetypes which has bumped decks like Miracles and the new Sharkstill deck out somewhat which is a shame. I’m also sad that ANT has lost favor but, I think that is in part due to a lack of desire for innovation working around what is in the meta.

Brian Coval: Legacy is great right now. There’s a ton of viable decks, you can basically do whatever you want which has always been the biggest appeal of the format. There may be a “top tier” but everyone is playing Legacy, those rogue decks will still pack a punch. Oko is the one card that feels like it might be bending the format a little too much, but it’s a 3 mana sorcery-speed card in the format with the best threats and answers in Magic. I like the gameplay most of the still-legal newer cards provide.

Jarvis Yu: There’s two ways to answer this question. I believe a lot of people would say Legacy is ‘healthy’ but completely defined by a few 2019/2020 FIRE-era cards. If you consider all Oko/Uro/Astrolabe decks to be the same, then I believe the format isn’t as diverse or ‘healthy’ as people might like. If you don’t consider them to be the same, then Oko and its ilk are propping up a few ‘rogue’ decks (see MentalMisstep’s Temur Painter, or Yorion Aluren, or the like). For the gameplay itself, I think from a gameplay standpoint that Uro is actually more offensive to play against than Oko, but both are generally not that fun to play against.

Michael Mapson: I currently am having a lot of fun but I don’t think I’d call the format healthy. I think the recent wave of pushed magic cards has had an interesting effect on the format. I’ve always been a big fan of experimenting with decks and new cards. Having so many powerful new cards is giving me that chance to do what I love. While a lot of the brews fall flat, a lot of them are capable of putting up good results. My issue though is that some of the cards are a bit too pushed. Uro, Oko, and Dreadhorde Arcanist all warp the format around them. The blue decks are homogenizing around these cards to a staggering degree. Even though there are so many decks that people can still play, it feels like Oko in particular invalidates a lot of strategies which is a big problem to me. 

The Canadian Threshold: It’s not unhealthy, but it’s not exactly Whole Foods healthy. The format has what it needs to evolve and develop to ensure there’s some deck diversity. But overall it seems like there’s less of a spectrum of strategy types. It feels like decks are either midrangey with big 2019/2020 haymakers or combo decks designed to go under, with just a handful of competitive decks that fall outside of that.

Eternal Durdles (Nate): How I feel about Legacy and whether it is healthy are different questions. In terms of a sort of surface diversity of decks and strategies, the format is healthy. Whether or not it is fun to play is a different story. Matchups tend to be very predictable these days, with polarization around key cards possibly at an all-time high. The power gulf between certain cards and other potential replacements on the curve make it so that seeing what an opponent has in play is enough to guess what’s in their hand or what they’re setting up. The mystery and delight from underexplored interactions is largely absent these days. (Phil) I don’t find it exciting. No. There are too many threats that also are draw engines. For fair decks, the only way to play competitively at the moment is snowballing with 2019-2020 printed cards. The format lacks drama or tension in its play patterns.

Topic #2 - How do you feel the year 2020 has impacted Legacy as a format? Is this impact positive or negative?

Matthew Vook: 2020 has introduced many cards into the format (Skyclave Apparition, Felidar Retreat, Valakut Exploration, Thassa's Oracle, Klothys, God of Destiny, Omnath, Locus of Creation, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Shark Typhoon, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, and Wilt). Most of these cards gave boosts to specific archetypes that weren’t overly dominant before such as Lands, Death and Taxes, and Doomsday. I think these boosts were good to allow these decks to keep up with the rest of the format. On the other hand, there have been several problematic cards this year. All of the now banned cards (Underworld Breach, Lurrus, and Zirda) all significantly warped the format around them. There are still several existing 2020 cards (Klothys, God of Destiny, and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath) that still contribute to the dominance of archetypes like Snow Control and RUG Delver, although to a lesser extent than the now banned cards. Overall I think 2020 has been a net positive for the format, while a few outliers have been overly dominant or lead to worse metagames and gameplay. 

In Response: In 2020 we got a lot of new cards to test in our format. Unfortunately, a lot of these new cards revolve around the format haymakers from last year.  Besides that we got a few new pieces of cardboard that revived dead decks, such as “Thassa's Oracle” or breathed new life into old archetypes, such as Dryad of the Ilysian Grove in Titan decks.

Also a new playstyle emerged in “long-range” decks like Snowko, which is hard to answer. The play patterns are now similar to the DRS Grixis Delver times, but now Oko takes the slot of Pyromancer and Uro takes the Angler’s slot. The difference here is, that these two cards have immediate card advantage stapled on top of them. 

With the printings in 2020, it continued its fiery way of 2019. The most impactful occurrence in 2020 was by far the ongoing COVID-pandemic. With no GPs and no FNMs a lot of players are moving on from the format and are selling out. On the other hand we have a lot of online playing, is it webcam-based or on Magic Online, that leads to new players that are entering the community.

A big tournament that stands out here, was definitely the EW:Online 2020, which was a huge success.

Overall 2020 shaped the format, not in a bad nor in a good way. The format has just moved on from its past.

PVDH: The year 2020 has definitely been a ride, for most of us, but also for our format. We had a number of cards that clearly couldn’t stay in the card pool, like Underworld Breach and (pre-companion change) Lurrus. But it also gave us a lot of cards that were essential for keeping waning decks in the format, most notably Allosaurus Shepherd (Elves), Skyclave Apparition (D&T, Maverick, and to some extent: Blade), and Thassa's Oracle (Doomsday).

One thing I know is very specific to me, and I know most won’t agree on this, but I absolutely love the short times we get to play with absolutely broken cards. Getting to brew, play, and overall just have fun with cards like Underworld Breach and Lurrus was an absolute highlight of the year for me. I personally like these clearly overpowered cards a lot more than cards that gradually push the power-level of the format upwards.

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The only addition I really dislike from 2020 is Uro; this is a card that puts too much pressure on alternative strategies - as a lot of strategies can’t build for the card by adapting their deck slightly and it’s really hard to trade fairly with it, even when your answer does line up. At least we can counter or Pyroblast Oko and be done with it, but this is a lot harder for Uro.

Thomas Hepp: The early part of the year was a disaster.  After planning to take a week or two break from the format after a string of major events, the shape of the format got me to take 3-4 months off just due to how broken it was.  I had zero interest in the play Breach or you were doing it wrong version of the format which was immediately followed by the play a Companion or get crushed version of the format.  After that, it settled a bit as Uro has been the only other card that has caused some issues.  Some really strong cards were printed to boost long time Legacy decks like Elves, Death and Taxes, Doomsday, and Goblins.  Their returns were welcomed with open arms.  Not sure if this question was focused primarily on new cards and the meta or not, but COVID-19 ending most Legacy paper events also happened.

In what is at its core a community-driven format, here is to a vaccine crushing this thing asap so we can all get back to more normal lives including the return of the gathering.

Lee Hung Nguyen: Legacy has changed for the positive in the past 2020 or 2019 to be honest. Previously it moved slow, but now it’s exciting to see what new cards bring to the format each set (As the expectation was very low in the past for older eternal formats). But since they have broken the mold of printing new cards outside of the standard style of sets, and added new additions of releases through commander legends and supplementary products like Secret Lairs and so on, it has added a new way for them to experiment with card releases. 

Some may not agree with me, but new cards just mean more innovation. And the fact that Wizards are willing to experiment for better or for worse for the game is what keeps the game fresh.

Also COVID has not helped a dying format as well. With the stay at-home measures, it will really test the strengths of the game to see if devoted players of the format will stay through and through.

Chris Banuchi: I asked Twitch chat during one of my recent streams “Which 2020 cards have been awesome for Legacy?” and they named at least 20 different cards. 2020 sets have been great for Legacy even though three new cards were banned, two mostly because companion had not yet been adjusted. There were also a lot of reprints of Legacy staples, which is super important. My 2020 standard set favorites for Legacy: Sprite Dragon, Klothys, God of Destiny, Village Rites, and the mythic MDFC spell/land cards.

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James Johns: This year has been both great and terrible for printings. There have obviously been some huge mistakes in the form of Lurrus/the Companion mechanic and Underworld Breach (RiP) but there have been some really interesting additions too. Even those inherently broken cards have been fun to work with/around and I am very sad, due to the COVID situation, I was not able to at least play one local in the Lurrus metagame. A lot of decks that were either thought to be dead and gone or stagnating have found new life in the form of Goblins, Elves, Cephalid Breakfast, Oops all Spells, Death and Taxes, Merfolk and of course my personal pet deck Doomsday. Cards like Thassa's Oracle, although detested by many, have enabled a lot more strategies to flourish. There have also been a lot of printings that have also been allowing other more fringe decks to try new things like Klothys for 4C loam. In terms of the culture of the format I fear this year has only heightened what 2019 (and actually earlier) started in terms of people becoming increasingly frustrated with new design styles and are less willing to put in time to find counterplay or build around new metagames when the target issue is potentially going to be banned in due course. Instead many find it easier to just advocate for the ban and then move on instead.

Brian Coval: 2020 has had a huge impact on Legacy. Uro supercharged midrange and control decks, Skyclave Apparition brought D&T back from the brink of extinction, Thassa's Oracle spawned new archetypes and breathed new life into old ones, the double-faced lands brought back Oops All Spells, Allosaurus Shepherd and Muxus brought back tribal warfare, Underworld Breach and Lurrus/Zirda got the ban hammer, Shark Typhoon brought Standstill and Replenish back into the format, and those are just the seismic shifts. There’s still tons of role-players like Klothys, Wilt, Felidar Retreat, and Valakut Exploration that slot well into existing archetypes.

Outside of printed cards, COVID forcing everyone indoors for most of the year put a spotlight on Magic Online and Legacy comes with the territory. Legacy PTQs brought new people to the format. GenCon, PAX, and Eternal Weekend being online with “god accounts” provided to all the players was a great opportunity for folks who were bored at home to break in and try something that is normally prohibitively expensive. Legacy was losing support from SCG and WOTC before things closed down, maybe the buzz around playing online will encourage some reconsideration on the other side of this pandemic. 

Jarvis Yu: 2020 is still resolving the effects of 2019 (as well as 2020). What we’ve really seen over this past year is how influential the FIRE philosophy has been on Eternal formats. We went from Underworld Breach being a clear S-Tier deck to Lurrus/Zirda domination to 5c Snow reclaiming its throne to Dreadhorde Arcanist propping up Delver decks again. For better or worse, this is the reality. New cards are likely to define Legacy, and you just gotta adapt.

Michael Mapson: The start of this year was pretty rough for the format. I think the format had been a bit stale coming into the new year and then there was an explosion of change. It felt like the format kept getting broken wide open for a bit, between companions and Underworld Breach, the future of Legacy was a really scary thought. (I will admit, I actually did have a lot of fun during the companion meta and while I knew it needed to stop I wish it lasted another month.) Once we got through that though, I think the year was actually quite good for Legacy. The addition of new powerful cards reinvigorated old archetypes and brought back some new ones. The year certainly hasn’t been perfect but it’s definitely been interesting and to me, that's what's important. 

The Canadian Threshold: “Hey, at least 2020 can’t be worse than 2019 was” we said, right before the last finger on the monkey paw curled.

Thank Griselbrand for MTGO. It’s really all we’ve got right now and kudos to Wizards for stepping up support for the format with the “god account” events this year. That said, we started a Legacy podcast because we love the Gathering and, at least up here in the Pacific Northwest, it seems like we’re not the only ones. The pandemic’s also affected people financially, but we’ve lost a few stalwarts of the scene up in the Vancouver/Seattle/Portland corridor due to some combination of finances, the lack of events, and the overall direction of Magic.

Speaking to the latter, 2020 continues down the path that 2019 set. Breach and the Companions were the kind of cards that made you ask, “did anyone actually play test these?” And while Allosaurus Shepherd, Muxus, Opposition Agent, Hullbreacher, or the Walking Dead cards are all far from banworthy, the design approach for the supplementary sets seems to be straying away from cards that promote interesting decisions or skill intensive play. 

Eternal Durdles (Phil): I don’t think the year is what matters as much as the design philosophy which was the same for 2019 and 2020. “Draw a card” doesn’t seem to have a cost anymore in design and they are designing too many cards that deny the ability to interact or make interaction a losing strategy.

Topic #3 - How do you feel about supplemental product such as Commander Legends and their legality in Legacy?

Matthew Vook: I think the precedent for having Commander cards in Legacy has already been set and none of the cards have been overly dominant, even though cards like Leovold and TNN saw a lot of play. I think the new cards from Commander Legends are on the same power level as much of the format so I think them being legal is fine. Hullbreacher is strong but in line with the format and not format warping. Court of Cunning is also strong but has several inherent weaknesses keeping it in check. Opposition Agent is not playable main deck in most decks and is also fine power level for the format. 

In Response: We feel that Legacy should have an influx of legacy powered cards directly into the format via supplemental products. With that we welcome any print to demand supplemental products.

These cards have also the potential to draw players from other formats into ours.

Besides that Legacy is built on the fact that every non-silver-bordered card is legal in the format except if it is banned.

PVDH: I believe that continuing to have these supplemental products be added to a subset of eternal formats is a very important way to make sure that these larger formats, like Modern and Legacy, stay clearly distinct. With power creeping up over time, these formats should converge - and at some point could mostly differ on whether or not we’re paying 2 life for our dual lands. By allowing powerful or functionally unique cards to enter Legacy via this route, it ensures that any archetype that they see play in, have another distinguishing identity from their (potential) Modern counterpart.

Also, the Commander Legends additions are awesome! Especially Krark.

Thomas Hepp: I generally think the hate for commander printings has been overblown to a degree.  People really hated True-Name Nemesis and it was the poster child for concerns over the effects this style of product has on Legacy for a long time.  Over the years though, that card more-or-less turned into a fringe playable Legacy card and most of the others including older printings like Flusterstorm have been accepted.  Having an outlet where they can print eternal playable cards without ruining other formats is a good thing unless you just don’t trust Wizards to get it right when they do it (a valid concern after the FIRE philosophy banning spree of 2019-2020).  While I do not particularly enjoy the blowout heavy and feel bad design of a couple of the newer cards in these products like Hullbreacher and Opposition Agent, there are plenty of interesting cards to try and brew with.

Lee Hung Nguyen: Like mentioned previously, I support supplemental products, as it adds additional freshness to the card pool. And I'm all for brewing with new cards. It keeps the game fresh. I came from a world of video games (before DLC characters were a thing), and it took years before new fresh content came out to keep the players engaged. But the fact that for 27 years MTG has new fresh content to the game every 3 months ingrained into it, the expected consumer’s mindset is very important. From a physiological perspective, this is very important. We as MTG players are already aware and expect new updates. Yet players love to complain about the direction they go sometimes, which is fair. But it feels like first world problems to me sometimes. Just be thankful that MTG exists and we get a dedicated company pumping out fresh new cards 2 years in advance for us.

Chris Banuchi: Trying new things like Jumpstart, Conspiracy draft, assembling contraptions, etc. help keep MTG fun and interesting. I also love that the new cards in these sets are legal in Legacy. My 2020 supplemental product favorites for Legacy: Muxus, Goblin Grandee, Ethereal Forager, and Opposition Agent.

James Johns: It’s pretty positive to be honest. Sometimes you get design mistakes but let’s be honest here, Legacy was founded on design mistakes so that is nothing new. The only gripe is the limited availability of some of them, especially if they are EDH “must haves” too as it can lead to initial inflated prices or low availability. It’s also important to have these as, at least historically, WOTC have been less willing to take risks or try interesting new mechanics in their ‘standard legal expansions so having another outlet for them to explore and innovate is important.

Brian Coval: I don’t think putting the work into designing an entire set just to sell it for limited play and casual formats makes any sense. The Un-sets are fun for like 20 minutes then you realize that outside of some cool basics you’re just accumulating pointless cardboard. Supplemental sets being legal in Legacy+ formats makes sense and I like that we get new toys from time to time that the mainstream Magic pundits don’t get to be excited about in the same way.

Modern Horizons is a big exception to me. I don’t mind that the set is Legacy legal, it should be if it has to exist, it’s just a stupid thing to exist. In a time with more Standard bans than ever before, why did WOTC think they could handle printing at a Modern power level without breaking things? The appeal of eternal formats to me is skimming the best cards off the top of normal printings to see what can float in the deep end, printing straight into the deep end by design is a mess.

I also think the community at large flies off the handle too fast about new cards. The bar to Legacy playability is pretty high, most Standard printings don’t make it all the way to the oldest formats. People tend to overreact to new cards that are obviously at or near that bar. Look at Opposition Agent. Twitter freaked out for 2 days, I saw people in social media groups declaring they’re quitting Magic if that’s the kind of card that WOTC is “fine ruining Legacy with.” Hullbreacher was spoiled later that same week to crickets from the same people. Only one of those cards is remotely playable and neither are broken. Just take a deep breath, evaluate the format, test the cards, at least let the set come out, then come back if you still think it’s “broken.” WOTC has demonstrated recently with Wrenn and Six, Underworld Breach, and Lurrus/Zirda that they’re willing to take action when something breaks.

Patrick Sullivan put it in perspective back in 2013, the first time a supplemental set “ruined Legacy”: “What if True-Name Nemesis was printed in Tempest and Wasteland was in a new Commander set?”

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Jarvis Yu: I generally have a big issue with Commander sets as the device of distribution to the public. This caused a lot of weird issues both in real life and online (Ari Lax always reminds me that he played exactly against TNN twice in the Legacy Champs he won with Death and Taxes), until additional supply or lines of distribution were opened (treasure chests for MTGO, TNN reprint irl). I don’t play Commander myself, so I don’t know if cards like Containment Priest, Leovold, True-Name Nemesis were actually good in that format, but in terms of power level for Legacy, I think it’s ok for them to toe the line.

Michael Mapson: I like that these sets are legal. I am of the mindset that having more options leads to a better Legacy format. I love that it gives Legacy a backdoor way of getting new cards that might be too powerful to print in Standard. The only problem I have with these cards being legal is that when they do become Legacy staples, they tend to fetch unreasonably high prices on the secondary market and can be hard to obtain. 

The Canadian Threshold: We sort of said our piece on this year’s crop of supplemental products, but in a general sense, when done right, they’re a great way to inject cards into the format. Sanctum Prelate, Containment Priest, Flusterstorm, Toxic Deluge, and Baleful Strix are all great card designs that were first printed in supplemental sets and found a place in the format.

Eternal Durdles (Nate): I think it’s fine. My well-documented feelings about True-Name Nemesis aside, I don’t think supplemental products have harmed Legacy any more than Standard products have... note that Innistrad, Khans of Tarkir, War of the Spark and Throne of Eldraine were Standard releases. (Phil) I am in favor of supplemental products being legal since they allow for cards that wouldn’t be printed into Standard still find their way into Legacy (the new Monarch cards being a fine example). I think WoTC should just be more liberal with the banlist for cards that obviously make games less fun (TNN being the most obvious example), but overall supplemental products I think are a positive for Legacy.

Topic #4 - Are there any cards that should be banned currently in the format? Explain your reasoning.

Matthew Vook: At this point in time I think it is obvious that RUG Delver and Snow Control variants are the best decks in the format by a clear margin. Starting off with an Oko, Thief of Crowns ban is the best place to start to bring both of these decks down a notch. It would allow increased counter-play to these decks primarily in the form of artifacts (Chalice of the Void, Ensnaring Bridge, and equipment) or large creatures (Knight of the Reliquary, Marit Lage, Eldrazi).

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Other cards are reasonably in the ban discussion, and in order that I could see them being banned would be 1) Dreadhorde Arcanist and 2) Veil of Summer. DHA is a huge contributing factor in the dominance of RUG Delver. It snowballs games incredibly quickly if unanswered and also gives the Delver decks another way to cheat on mana to further leverage Daze and Wasteland. In a vacuum, Chalice of the Void is a great answer to most DHA shells. The problem is that Oko and FoN help to invalidate both the Chalice directly and other cards in chalice shells to a point that Arcanist is unimpeded. If Oko was gone I think that DHA would be kept in check enough that it could stay legal.

Veil of Summer is another card that is incredibly frustrating to play against and leads to worse gameplay. From a power level perspective I think the card has too much impact on games for its mana cost. I don’t think there should be 1 mana 2 for 1s that are as universally applicable as Veil. It contributes to the dominance of UGx decks and with it gone I think we would see a resurgence of black based decks like Depths or UBx Delver and control variants. 

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Arcum's Astrolabe are the other cards that often get brought up in ban discussion, but I don’t think they should be banned at this point in time. Uro is also incredibly strong and format warping but I think with Oko gone decks could play main deck hate for Uro directly or better tune their decks to beat decks playing Uro if needed. I could write an essay on all the various strengths of Arcum's Astrolabe, but I think it is fine power level for the format. Allowing the blue decks an additional tool to have a more stable manabase is fine in a world without Oko, especially with all the other fast decks in the format and a likely resurgence of Chalice decks. Without the potential for Astrolabe to become a 3/3, I think many players would opt to play Preordain, discard, or mana dorks instead.

In Response: Currently we have a very strong color combination that builds the top of the meta. The combination is a Simic shell with various other colours. RUG Delver with red, Snowko with BW splash or even 5C and Bant Miracles with white. The card these decks have in common is Oko, Thief of Crowns.

With that in mind Oko is clearly the card to look at in regards to bannings, but currently we are not sure that the card has enough of a meta share that it is needed to be banned.

Back in September we had the opinion that it has to be banned, but since then we had a printing that allowed more decks to have an effective answer to Oko and with that Skyclave Apparition changed the perspective on this Topic.

Another really controversial opinion would be to decrease the amount of cantrips available for blue decks. This would make non-blue midrange decks better against them and depower Dreadhorde Arcanist for RUG Delver by a lot. It further decreases the ability of said blue decks from recovering after casting multiple copies of their 8 forces.

With all these thoughts combined, we still believe no changes is the way to go right now, but there are for sure some possibilities to change the format if it is needed.

PVDH: In my experience there are two recent additions that have really shut down the option to play innovative archetypes or new brews. These are Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Veil of Summer.

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Uro, as a card, annoys me a bit too much. I believe it asks too much from the opposing deck, and is too powerful with little to no support cast. I’ve seen many games of Legacy end where the only relevant thing one of the players did was cast and escape Uro until the game was locked up. My biggest concern here is that there are a number of archetypes that can’t favourably interact with Uro, and are pushed out of the format as a result. These archetypes include almost all Grixis based decks, except those that play Uro themselves. My personal experience is that I had too many decks that I could tune to be fine roleplayers in the format, but as soon as I saw an Uro with something like a turn 1 Thoughtseize, I knew I had no way to win the game. From my point of view, Uro pushes new innovations too strongly towards unfair strategies, which is not an effect I would look at positively.

While Veil of Summer doesn’t see much play, I believe it already has done its damage to the format and is only punishing new / developing strategies. I feel that the format would be better off without it, but don’t think it’s on top of the priority list. 

To hit on the most debated ‘bannable’ cards: I believe that Oko is fine for the format. The card is pushed and it definitely could have been better by shaving down the loyalty numbers quite a bit, but I don’t believe it’s necessarily too strong or impactful for the format. It offers midrange and control decks a soft control tool that also helps them close the game when they get ahead, and this is something they didn’t have access to before its printing, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem. Oko often trades 1 for 1, is bad when you’re behind on board, and I generally don’t mind its play patterns. Yes, it sees play in two of the top archetypes, but I’m pretty sure these archetypes would be on top of the meta even after an Oko banning, in one shape or another.

I do think that Oko is a reasonable ban if we just want to impact the top two decks, without significantly altering the shape of the format outside of that. But I’m weary that this would be the first of a string of bans of cards without too strong of a reasoning, other than community outcry.

I believe that Arcum's Astrolabe is often brought up but really doesn’t deserve it. People on the other side of the match-up often overlook how bad these manabases actually are, especially if their Astrolabe don’t show up or are active. Yes, Astrolabe means that people can play 4 to 5 color decks with basic lands in them; this means that they are less impact by non-basic interaction from the opposing player, but it also means that those decks sometimes just lose to their own manabase without any interaction from the other player at all. I’ve regularly found that the options Snow player had available were way too handicapped by their basic lands, and they easily lost the game because of it. I also believe that 4 or 5 color decks would exist anyway, and while they would be more susceptible to board-wide non-basic hate their vulnerability to Wastelands would be limited. At the end of the day, Astrolabe is currently legal, isn’t played in the best performing deck (RUG Delver), and Wasteland sees as much play as ever. I don’t think any argument against Astrolabe truly holds up, and would be shocked if the card ends up being removed from the format.

Thomas Hepp: This is kind of tricky because some of the cards like Veil of Summer that I feel are actively bad for Legacy are not heavily played enough to justify such an action in most people's eyes, but their impact is more seen in what else is not played because of their presence.  As far as more realistic cards to consider, Oko headlines the list edging out cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist and Uro.  While I don’t think Oko is necessarily the worst offender, it overlaps in the two best decks.  Oko just does way too much for way too little.  Having a card that is simultaneously a win con, life gain and a combat magnet to stabilize, and functions as a main deck answer to everything from Chalice of the Void to Ensnaring Bridge to Knight of the Reliquary is just too much.  Removing it would give many decks some room to breath and force RUG and Snow to run significantly less versatile cards in those slots.  From there we could see where things go and take another look down the line if one or both of those decks continue to be too strong.

Lee Hung Nguyen: Banned cards. Let’s do this:

Astrolabe: Has pros and cons. It semi solves the manabase problem that people can play more colours in their deck without directly requiring dual lands. This is I feel, wizard’s way of trying to solve the reserve list issue. Trying to solve the problem, but not directly replacing the solution (e.g. commander dual lands). The problem is, it sorta does solve that, but it also powers the rest of the decks that can take advantage of it. Now players are able to abuse the colour pie (the one hard rule that kept all players at bay to not make the game overpowered). I can see how this is a problem. They tried to add friction to the card by making it snow requirement. This wasn’t enough. Does it need a ban? No. Does it need to be on the top of the watch list? Yes.

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Oko: This card is way too powerful for the format. If this was Hearthstone, it would be nerfed in a second. It should be +1, -1, -6 start on 3. It stifles the very thing that Wizard’s R&D probably discovered that “players love and think what a fun game is”: lots of cards on the battlefield magic. My theory is that Research from WotC discovered that magic players love permanents. This is why EDH is popular. This card stifles that. It also is in the color range that it came be cast on turn 2. I feel like Oko should be removed from the format or be restricted if that was a thing for Legacy players. It also synergies well with Astrolabe. Which is why it is so powerful.

Uro: This card is fine, as it incentivizes midrange games and yes as it is very powerful, its on the same power level as Jace, the Mind Sculptor. It has a very hard color requirement for GGUU which combos with astrolabe. (only really needing UUG and anything with astrolabe in play). And requires the graveyard strategy to power through. Yes it is powerful, but watch list it goes. Maybe on the bottom of it.

Veil of Summer: This card has no beef with me. It is fine. Although very upsetting as it exists along with astrolabe.

All of my card suggestions here are all influenced by the existence of Astrolabe. Astrolabe needs the deeper investigation over all the rest of the cards. And Oko in close second.

Chris Banuchi: I have hopes for 2021: very effective hate cards that punish snow, punish casting from graveyard, and punish < 4 CMC planeswalkers. As the MTG community reconvenes post-pandemic, I’m curious if we’ll see more consideration for “no reserved list” tabletop Legacy events. Possible banning of the reserved list could be a boost to the Legacy format. The format has an enormous accessibility issue and I worry that the pandemic will have made this problem even worse.

James Johns: Hard to say. I think something should probably be taken from Delver to try and drop the meta share by a few percentage points and the most likely target that comes to mind is Dreadhorde Arcanist. DHA is only really played in Delver and Pokepile (which is just Delverless Delver, let’s be honest) so shouldn’t impact other decks. Delver will return to playing one of the other powerful 2-drops it has access to in the form of Goyf or Peezy and, more importantly, it will have to balance considerations of pitch counters vs card advantage more. DHA promotes too much ability for the deck to run 6+pitch counters and still retain card parity. Making them lean in on Sylvan library or more reliant on their 3 drop slots I think is an effective way to slow them down without killing the deck completely. I don’t think Veil or Astrolabe warrant bannings. Veil has a lot of interesting stack based play with the dance between discard, Veil, Pyroblast, Flusterstorm and Force of Will being an interesting one (at least to my eyes). It also isn’t putting up the numbers that people assumed it would, slotting mostly as a 1-2 of . Astrolabe seems very good in allowing new players into the format and when people argue “but what about my wasteland deck” but the top deck in the format RUG is still running 4 x Wasteland I feel like something is off in that argument. Oko and Uro are basically “non cards” in terms of the decks I play so I am biased in being unconcerned as to whether they stay or go. I don’t think either is powerful enough to warrant a ban in themselves but enough people seem to dislike them that maybe they should go. (Though that attitude got Top banned so still kinda salty on that). I would prefer to see new printings that address the issues observed than bans. A “Snow Wasteland” would be interesting for example to punish both Astrolabe decks and also to “unlock” your favorite basic land art as running snow basics for teeny tiny percentage points would no longer be optimal. Obviously Wizards would need to make sure the Snow Wasteland is not itself a “Snow Permanent” as then it could cast Astrolabe. Or maybe that’s a good thing if it can, who knows? That is for professional developers to test out. (In theory).

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Brian Coval: I think Veil of Summer is bad for the format. Its mere existence wiped Ad Nauseam Tendrils off the map in one direction while supercharging The EPIC Storm and Show and Tell in the other. I don’t mind it much in blue mirrors, it’s just a Pyroblast variation in that context, but what it’s done to and for combo decks is dramatic. Does that make it ban-worthy? Probably not, but I wish it hadn’t been printed.

The other common topics in these conversations are Oko and Uro. They’re both Banedrifters (creatures used to be thicc animals like Baneslayer Angel or value engines like Mulldrifter, many new printings are both). Banedrifters turn off a lot of Legacy players because historically the format has had more nuance than that, more of a ballet than a mosh pit. You cast Tarmogoyf, I Swords to Plowshares, we’re even on that exchange. You cast Uro, I cast Swords to Plowshares, you’re up a card and a land drop. If I Abrupt Decay your Oko you’ve already gotten an activation out of it. Do I love that style of play? Not really. Can we ban 2 years’ worth of cards to restore Legacy to some arbitrary definition of its glory days? No way. If WOTC bans Uro and Oko, there will be more Banedrifters behind them, that’s just how cards are being designed right now. It’s time to adjust your deckbuilding and expectations to play the format we have, because it’s a lot of fun if you stop wishing it was something else. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

Jarvis Yu: I find it very difficult to discuss bans rationally. At its core, the issue is there isn’t really a clear objective way that Wizards of the Coast has handled bans, especially recently. A lot of ‘55% winrate’ has been bandied about in the non-Eternal formats to justify bans. But is that a good way to do things? I generally believe deeper card pools can self-correct, unless cards are on the power level of Mental Misstep, Dig Through Time/Treasure Cruise or Underworld Breach. If a gun were put to my head, I believe the gameplay aspect of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath props up Snow a little too much, and then I’d look at Oko, Thief of Crowns after that.

Unrelated, I’ve been weary of bans over the past few years because it forces loss of consumer confidence, so I do everything in my power to avoid them.

Michael Mapson: Going against the majority here, I’m actually a pretty big fan of bans. I like the thought of more aggressively banning and unbanning cards to try to create more ideal formats.  I envision something similar to the way they handle historic with a suspended list and are slightly more transparent.I do however think the constant churn of that would drive people away from the format and as such not be a viable idea but I think it would lead to a more enjoyable format.I’m going to echo what a lot of others have said here and on Twitter, Oko should go.This card does way too much for such little investment. One of the fun parts about Magic has always been trying to maneuver in deckbuilding and gameplay so that your answers line up with opposing threats and your threats line up poorly for your opponent’s answers. Oko sidesteps all of this decision making by answering almost everything and just being an effective threat when there’s nothing for it to answer. I’m not too confident on what the format would look like without Oko, but I think it would be great. That being said, I would next want to keep an eye out on Daze, Dreadhorde Arcanist, Arcum's Astrolabe,  and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

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The Canadian Threshold: It’s probably time for Oko to go. He’s overwhelmingly played in the most powerful Brainstorm decks, which means he’s likely approaching the 55% win rate figure that Wizards has used as a metric in the past. In addition, the combination of flexibility and power means it’s also “correct” to run Oko in blue decks that aren’t also blue stew decks (Infect, Aluren, etc). He’s also a main deck out with no drawback to one of the format’s police cards, since he can Elk a Chalice.

It’s harder to make a case, but none of us three would shed a tear if Dreadhorde, Veil or Astrolabe got smacked with a banhammer either.

Dreadhorde’s fine in the context of Standard or Historic instants and sorceries, but combined with the power of Legacy’s 1-mana spells, there’s just so much value. Yes, it dies to removal, but it’s not exactly Bob or Lackey at 1/3 and it’d be far less powerful if it couldn’t freely swing into an opposing Thalia.

Veil’s actually not showing up in the type of numbers that should cause concern, but it creates unnecessary blowouts and kills interaction once it resolves. Bad beat stories are the only ones more boring than Magic stories that start with “I led with Veil of Summer”. Bring back Overmaster.

Just like Chalice providing a check on the power of Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, etc, Blood Moon, Back to Basics, and Wasteland provide a check on the power of dual lands. Also, we’re sick of seeing Snow basics instead of the countless sick basic lands people can flex with.

Eternal Durdles (Nate): I think up to two dozen cards SHOULD be banned, but I think starting with Oko, Thief of Crowns, seeing how the format resets, and going from there would be the best place to start. No card is as singularly suffocating on the format right now as Oko, as it is a 100% include if your green-blue-X deck is planning to play a third turn; it also heavily disincentivizes playing decks that go beyond a third turn that AREN’T green and blue. To a lesser extent, I think Force of Negation is simply unneeded and is not making the format better, and could be lopped off at the same time.  From there, I would examine cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist, Echo of Eons, Urza and the Planeswalkers I mentioned above immediately thereafter. The efficiency of these cards is what is creating staleness in the format. Two points where I buck orthodoxy: I do believe that there are cards that predate 2019 that are exacerbating problems from newish cards that could be re-examined. These include Delver of Secrets, Thespian's Stage, Snapcaster Mage and Griselbrand. And I think Veil of Summer is absolutely fine. (Phil) Of course, Oko needs to go. It doesn’t create interesting or fun games and removes so many deckbuilding considerations you could make in fair decks.  Changing the focus of the question slightly, I would like to see more experiments with the banned list take place since cards can come off the banned list. Eternal formats have the opportunity to experiment or curate formats with the banned list rather than just deal with whatever cards are explicit problems. What a format sans Griselbrand and Daze would look like?

Topic #5 - Are there any cards that should be unbanned?

Matthew Vook: With the new companion rules change I think Lurrus of the Dream-Den should be unbanned. The power of Lurrus before the rules change was that you could easily cast it turn 3 and it was immune to discard. Paying 3 mana to put a companion into your hand, in addition to the inherent restriction of not playing the other powerful 3 drops in the format is enough to make it a powerful effect in certain decks while not overly dominant. I think it would give a small boost to lower tiered decks while not being as format warping as it was before. Zirda is the other banned companion card but I think the 3 mana additional cost to put it into your hand is more negligible in the Zirda decks, so it should stay banned.

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In Response: In regards to unbannings there are no changes to our opinions since the last round table in September. For unbanning purposes therefore are two things to consider, card availability and impact on the format. 

For us there are only a few cards on the ban list, that provide something interesting to the format and are at a reasonable price point. 

Lurrus of the Dream-Den would be an interesting maindeckable card for non UG decks to keep up with the card advantage from blue. Mind Twist is perfectly fine as it is easily hated out with Veil of Summer. Yawgmoth's Bargain on the other hand would be a nice combo piece that is often worse than Griselbrand or Ad Nauseam.

With these reasons we want Lurrus of the Dream-DenMind Twist and Yawgmoth's Bargain back in the format.

PVDH: I’d argue for a number of cards I’d personally have a lot of fun with, like Lurrus of the Dream-Den now that the Companion rule has changed, or Underworld Breach but I do think that both those cards could be too strong to come back. Of these two Lurrus could definitely be argued in favor of with regards to power level, and that it would lessen the meta-share of Oko. The risk here is that it could empower another Delver subtype (Grixis), which I don’t think is necessarily something that’s positive for the Legacy meta.

Cards I would like to come off the banned list, just to see if they’re safe and with a note in the announcement that they might be re-banned are: Earthcraft, GushMind Twist or maybe even Mana Drain; though that last one definitely seems riskier. 

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I could also buy looking into the unbanning of Mystical- and/or Vampiric Tutor. While the effect of these tutors is very strong, they are putting the caster down a card, and don’t have an immediate effect unless paired with a draw spell or -step. I feel that the card quality of Legacy may have caught up to these spells, and haven’t added any big offenders one might get with these tutors. One big concern could be that these cards were never Legal with Miracles (e.g. Terminus), though I personally wouldn’t mind giving those cards more room in the meta. Maybe we can start with just the worst of these, and unban Imperial Seal before we move on; though that seems like a horrendous idea from an availability perspective (get rid of the Reserved List, please).

I like a small B/R list, and would rather we have the community play and brew with some card that ends up too good and just accept that we have to re-ban them, than to never touch these cards at all ‘because it’s risky’. 2020/2021 might be a better time than ever, since a relatively large percentage of Legacy is being played online right now.

Thomas Hepp: Ideally, the B/R list should be as small as possible.  Given the recent run (last 2 years or so) where the percentage of highly playable legacy cards has shot through the roof and many format defining cards have been printed, a long look should be given into cards that were once considered too powerful for the format.  Is Mind Twist really any good at all given that Veil of Summer exists and players are also routinely getting their hands nearly twisted these days on early turns anyway with Narset/Hullbreacher + Echo of Eons?  Is Hermit Druid over the top when a deck like Oops All Spells can consistently mill its entire deck on turn 1?  Is Lurrus worth a test drive given the three extra mana added to it?  I think all of those should be unbanned and would probably go further than that and give cards like Gush a chance too.  

Lee Hung Nguyen: I think we should free Lurrys and Zirda from the banlist. Companions are worse now, so they can live in a world of oko and uro.

I also think they should ban Fugitive Wizard. He did nothing wrong. 

Chris Banuchi:No unban feels as safe as the Modern unbans of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf. I’d stay away from unbans if it were up to me. If I had to pick a card to unban, it could be fun to try Lurrus of the Dream-Den with updated companion rules.

James Johns: Unbans wise a lot can come off from a power level standpoint. Mind Twist is probably fine, as is maybe Earthcraft and some other pieces. Lurrus can maybe come off for a trial period with the mechanical change. Worst comes to worst, just ban them back but at least give people a trial run with the new errata. Imperial Seal might also be okay to let loose for a little while however I worry, with a lot of these cards that are reserve list locked, that they will just cause massive secondary market fluctuations and hype and the headache for players will mean it's safer to leave them off purely from a financial perspective. (Which is a crap reason, boo reserved list). Cards like Gush I think would incorporate too easily into the Delver shell to be safe. Frantic Search might be okay to add if nothing else to see if it brings High Tide back from the dead :)

Brian Coval: Lurrus and Zirda should get a second change with the companion rule change. Lurrus is probably still too good, it’s still played in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern despite the change, but with an unprecedented power-level errata to an entire mechanic I want those cards to get their fair shake in the metagame. Earthcraft being banned is kind of a joke at this point. Mind Twist is probably fine, especially with Veil of Summer in the format. What does Memory Jar do in the format? Is Jar more dangerous than what Karn, the Great Creator is up to? I’m honestly surprised to learn that Windfall is banned at all. I’ve heard smart people argue that Mind's Desire wouldn’t get played because Storm shells are too efficient as they are, Desire just slows them down (though I’m skeptical). I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the old spells set free to combat the new permanents.

Jarvis Yu: I’m generally pretty anti-unban as well, but I think you could justify unbanning Earthcraft and Mind's Desire. I’m more wary of Mind Twist, mostly because if it turns out to be good, it’ll be the exact kind of one-sided gameplay that people loathe, but if it’s bad, what do you even gain re: gameplay?

Michael Mapson: If you read all my other responses, it shouldn’t be too surprising that I approve of some unbannings. First I’d really like to see Lurrus and Zirda welcomed back into the format. We never got to play these cards as they currently function and I think that’s a crime.They would still be good but I don’t think they would be S tier anymore and having Lurrus might result in less Oko, which I think is a net positive. Mind Twist being banned in a format where people are playing with Dreadhorde Arcanist, Uro, and Veil of Summer seems laughable to me. I’m somewhat interested in a Mystical Tutor unban. I know that this card used to be a big problem once upon a time but I think now it would just be a way to help combo decks that are struggling a bit with people having access to so many free counters. I do have some concern that it would end up being too good though as it's so easy to negate the card disadvantage aspect these days though. Two unbans that likely are not safe but I’m very interested in anyway are Oath of Druids and Deathrite Shaman. Combo has not been doing great outside of Doomsday, so I think it would be nice to add another option. People often tell me that this strategy would be too broken, citing how good it is in Vintage but honestly I’m not convinced. The formats are different, I honestly think Legacy is slightly better set up to handle it. I also don’t think Oath is nearly as good as it was in Vintage but I don’t follow that format. While I was a big big proponent of banning Deathrite I think it may be time for him to make his grand return. One of the big problems was he homogenized the format but Arcum's Astrolabe is already doing that. Now there would at least be a choice on which is better in your deck, or do you play both. The real reason I like the thought of Deathrite coming back though is he would provide counterplay to other problematic cards. Being able to snipe a spell that Arcanist is targeting or tag an unescaped Uro seems really good. While bringing him back might ruin the format, I think there’s a slightly better chance it would make things more interesting.

The Canadian Threshold: If we’re talking strictly power level: Frantic Search, Survival of the Fittest, Mind Twist, Mana DrainHermit Druid, Yawgmoth's Bargain, Earthcraft, and Windfall.

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Eternal Durdles (Phil): DRS should not be on the banned list. Lurrus could come off the banned list. Other cards that could come off don’t really offer much. Mind Twist could come off, but I don’t think anyone would consider a game where Mind Twist resolved as an enjoyable time. I personally think Sensei's Divining Top could come off the banned list since there are so many tools now that just don’t care about the counter-top lock — Cavern of Souls, Allosaurus Shepherd, a timely Veil of Summer, Abrupt Decay never went away, Aether Vial never went away. Having a Countertop out doesn’t even seem as good as Oko by itself, which just says creatures and artifacts don’t have text. Get more flexible and active with the banned list, WoTC — experiment a bit, switch things up. (Nate) In addition to everything Phil said, Necropotence is probably safe at this point.

Putting the Wrap on the Round Table

And there we have it! Our final Round Table of the year. I'd like to thank all the contributors to this one, this was a massive undertaking and everyone involved absolutely killed it with their contributions. I'm greatly looking forward to the discussion this particular Round Table promotes in regards to 2020.

See you folks again in 2021 for the next one in likely 3-4 months or so!

10 More Top Decks of 2020

Last week's article on Top 10 Decks of 2020 stirred some discussion that's for sure. Some people felt that I missed a few decks here or there. So in the interest of fairness, here are 10 More Top decks of 2020. This is in no particular order and is by no means a ranked list.

#10 - Ninjas

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Ninjas as a deck began to rise in playability heavily after last year's release of Modern Horizons with the printing of Ingenious Infiltrator and Changeling Outcast, but 2020 was the year the deck rose from obscurity to really show off just how good the deck is. While the little pieces of this deck don't look like much on paper (as a one mana 1/1 doesn't look impressive at first glance), the deck's strength lies in the synergy of its pieces and is very much a sum is greater than its parts type deck. The best card in this deck is functionally Retrofitter Foundry and it isn't even close based on all the powerful things this card actually does for this deck.

#9 - Esper Vial

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Esper Vial received a fair amount of printings this year, from cards such as Barrin, Tolarian Archmage and Skyclave Apparition to new Commander Legends printings like Opposition Agent and Hullbreacher. This is a powerful and interesting deck, filled with complicated interaction and subtle gameplay lines. In addition, the deck has a very passionate community behind it, fervently pushing the deck's innovation as new printings add to the deck's toolbox of tools.

#8 - Lands

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Lands didn't have much of a year until the latter part of the year with the printing of Valakut Exploration.

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Until the printing of this card, Lands seemed to struggle for most of the year, as traditional R/G variants dipped in metagame share (due to the fact that Punishing Fire was not nearly as good as it had been before) as players tried to utilize technology such as more BUG heavy variants with their own ability to play cards like Oko and Uro. However, with the printing of Valakut Exploration, the R/G variants gained a powerful engine card that not only fueled the deck but also had the ability to act as a win condition as well.

#7 - Hogaak

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Hogaak as a deck didn't exactly receive any new printings in 2020 that boosted its playability, but its unique presence in the format pushed the deck into the forefront due to having a pretty strong matchup vs decks like Snowko and RUG Delver due to being able to simply put out a massive amount of power quickly and its resilience to graveyard hate effects. However, the most interesting part is not the fact that the deck rose up in prominence, but the quick nature of the deck dipping back down out of the limelight. While Hogaak continues to put up results here or there, it's not dominating and seems to have settled into a positive place in the overall metagame.

#6 - Depths Combo

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Strategies utilizing Marit Lage arose back to a measure of position in the overall metagame again this year, mainly thanks to players such as Thomas Hepp and Michael Mapson being back on the deck, and primarily due to the unique nature of the "Rainbow Depths" variant. By taking advantage of the Snow metagame and how Wasteland functions in the metagame currently, Rainbow Depths allows the deck to have mana sources that produce multiple colors and be able to cast all of their spells on time. This also makes it trivial for the deck to splash into blue for specific effects.

#5 - The EPIC Storm

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The printings of Veil of Summer last year had a direct impact on many of the Storm archetypes in the format, but the community behind The EPIC Storm took on the challenge of beating Veil by approaching the card in a different way: by playing it themselves. The release of Wishclaw Talisman in Throne of Eldraine cemented the new strategy of the deck and the deck evolved greatly. Bolstered by the community and the great resources provided by Bryant Cook's website (theepicstorm.com) made the deck exceptionally approachable for many players searching for a Storm based archetype to learn.

This deck also received another fun impactful printing in the form of Peer into the Abyss in Core Set 2021, giving the deck a new Burning Wish target to utilize.

#4 - Omni-Tell

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Omni variants underwent a divergence of strategies this year, with two distinct variants emerging in Simic based and Azorius based Omni-Tell (as well as a technical third variant in one that plays all these colors). These variants play very differently and present an interesting way to approach the archetype. One of the more interesting printings we got this year was Sublime Epiphany, which quickly supplanted itself into Omni-Tell strategies as a Cunning Wish target.

#3 - G/W Reclaimer

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Reclaimer is another deck that would not have been possible without some key 2020 printings, namely Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Skyclave Apparition. As a bit of a bigger Maverick/D&T type strategy that also has the ability to go wide with cards like Field of the Dead, this deck is an intriguing play style and is seriously a lot of fun.

If you're looking for something in Legacy that can play Primeval Titan and Scute Swarm, this is a deck worth looking at.

#2 - Standstill

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Standstill based decks were largely on the fringe of the metagame before 2020, but the biggest key printing of Shark Typhoon largely changed all of that. People quickly realized and latched onto the fact that Typhoon was incredibly powerful in Standstill decks, and those decks flourished around it. Another printing that enabled the deck was the printing of cards like Kaheera, the Orphanguard which often acts as a free threat since the deck generally plays no creatures main deck.

Another quite hilarious and interesting development to the Sharkstill decks was the creation of the Shark Replenish deck, which thrust Replenish back into the minds of Legacy players, utilizing cards such as Cast Out and Lay Claim to bring back into play alongside Standstill and Shark Typhoon.

#1 - U/R Delver

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U/R Delver arose in prominence this year in the shadow of RUG Delver, but that doesn't mean that the deck isn't any good. U/R Delver is exceptionally strong, powered by the strength of cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist, but the real impactful printing this year came in the form of Ikoria's Sprite Dragon.

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Sprite Dragon gave this deck a scalable threat and while the card's existence was hotly debated in relation to Stormchaser Mage, the little Dragon simply ends up being a lot better of a threat because of how permanent its boosts are and how easy it is to be reactive and proactive with the card. The printing of Ethereal Forager also had a direct impact on the deck, giving the deck its own variant of cards like Hooting Mandrills or Gurmag Angler, but with a positive upside in being able to recur instants and sorceries.

Legacy Challenge 12/12

We had two Challenges this weekend, the first of which was the early morning Saturday Challenge. We've got a brand new way to look at these events, thanks to the combined efforts of the Legacy Data Collection Project (which I'll talk more in depth about below). This event had 87 players, and thanks to 3lik4r, FrancoBolli, LynnChalice, and Ozymandias17 we have a nice full picture of the overall metagame.

 

One of the most interesting pieces of this data is that while RUG Delver and Snowko were indeed a huge presence of the overall metagame, the actual conversion rate of these decks was actually a lot lower than would be believed. RUG Delver posted a 25% conversion rate to the Top 32 with 12 copies of the deck, and had an overall approximated Match Win Percentage (w/ Mirrors) of 46.6%. Snowko did a little better in conversion rate to Top 32 with a 45.45% conversion rate with 11 copies of the deck. It had a slightly better approximated MWP in 51.8%. Now it is important to keep in mind that 87 players is a relatively small sample size, but it is interesting to see just how these decks performed. I suspect a lot of to do with these decks comes from "Best deck syndrome" where a deck or decks are considered to be the best decks and thus people gravitate to that strategy.

However, just because these decks are regarded as the best decks doesn't mean these decks aren't difficult to master. Both RUG Delver and Snowko have a considerable skill floor and thus lesser skilled players with that archetype will perform worse than skilled pilots. Couple that with sheer matchup variance that can affect even the most skilled pilot on the decks and its easy to see why the decks can have this kind of performance/conversion rates. A more long term look at the performance of these decks will show a better and more complete picture of the power level of these decks and how they're performing.

Now let's take a look at Top 8 of the event.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Bomberman 1st Kanican
Sneak and Show 2nd JPA93
RUG Stifle 3rd Baku_91
Grixis Delver 4th Ark4n
Elves 5th Fluffy21
Elves 6th EronRelentless
Reanimator 7th Shalomas
Grixis Phoenix 8th Pietrone10

This is a super interesting Top 8 especially given the winner of it, so let's jump right to that. Kanican has been absolutely doing very well with Bomberman for some time, putting up multiple Top 8s. This time they took down the entire event!

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Gyruda gives this deck a very unique perspective and makes for a solid way to always have a card that develops the game plan of the deck for essentially free. Ranger of Eos is a cool card as well, given that its major tutor targets in the deck are Walking Ballista primarily and Stonecoil Serpent second. Still, a big congrats to Kanican on their finish!

The Second Place finalist here is none other than MTGO end boss JPA93 on their weapon of choice Sneak and Show.

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This is a super clean list, leaning hard on four Daze as a way to disrupt the opponent. I think this is a very powerful way to approach the deck. I especially like the Progenitus copies in the sideboard as that card is incredibly difficult to deal with right now in a world full of Oko and friends.

Also in the Top 8 of this event was a showing by Grixis Delver.

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Grixis variants have not been well seen in some time as many players favor the RUG lifestyle, but I think Grixis does have the ability to be pretty good still. It's certainly interesting to see. Also this list has my favorite Grixis Delver tech in the form of Painful Truths in the sideboard, which when combined with Mystic Sanctuary can be really good in grindy matchups.

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 we have Grixis Phoenix.

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This deck is pretty sweet. Primarily its a Delver/Phoenix shell, but it can sideboard into a transformational game plan into Doomsday, which is really sweet. New card Opposition Agent shows up here, and it's not hard to see why in a deck that wants to cast Dark Ritual.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by Lands with new cards Skyclave Apparition and Valakut Exploration.

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Splashing white is super intriguing, but the cards the deck gains access to because of it are all very powerful. Also, utilizing Flagstones of Trokair with Elvish Reclaimer is incredibly strong (and also a lot of fun).

Legacy Challenge 12/13

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the afternoon Sunday event, which had 102 players. Thanks to the combined efforts of the LDC Discord, namely fishduggery, Reeplcheep, jankyb, and Ozymandias17 we also have a complete look at this metagame as well.

 

Again this event boasted a fair amount of Snowko and RUG Delver as the most popular of decks to be playing right now. In this event the conversion rates of the two decks were slightly flopped around, with RUG Delver having a 45.45% rate on 11 decks, and Snowkow at a 33.33% rate on 12 decks. Both decks posted a reasonable MWP in this event, with RUG Delver at a 56.3% MWP and Snowko at a 50.8% MWP.

Now let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Esper Vial 1st musasabi
Esper Vial 2nd Carroz
Sneak and Show 3rd JPA93
RUG Delver 4th Lord_Beerus
Mono Red Phoenix 5th mikeray4
Reanimator 6th pokerswizard
White Eldrazi 7th Damgar
Snowko 8th Earlder1

This was a relatively interesting T8, as there was a fair amount of fair and combo here. At the end of it all however it was a grindy grudge match between two Esper Vial lists, with musasabi coming out on top.

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There's a fair amount of similarities and differences in these two lists, most of which is in sideboard cards and some main deck construction. Musasabi's list opted to not play a main deck Opposition Agent but also put in a main deck Glasspool Mimic. In addition, there are two Court of Grace in the sideboard here, which is interesting. Esper Vial is a powerful archetype, so I'm sure this mirror match was probably super interesting to see.

Also in the Top 8 was a Mono Red Phoenix build!

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This deck is super cool and is very clean in its deck construction. It is great to see a deck like this do well and it's certainly very exciting. Being able to turn into something of a straight Burn deck from the sideboard is sweet to sidestep the graveyard hate for Arclight Phoenix.

Also showing up in the Top 8 is White Eldrazi.

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This is like a big Taxes deck, utilizing Thalia with the big Eldrazi cards like Thought-Knot Seer and Eldrazi Displacer. This is a really sweet deck for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we have a showing by a U/W variant of Karn Echo.

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Teferi is an interesting angle to this deck, and Monastery Mentor makes the Hullbreacher/Echo of Eons plan really powerful by being able to deploy Mentor and wheel into more action. Sideboard copies of Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is fairly interesting as well.

Also outside of the Top 8 we have our good friend Reeplcheep on Curse Stompy.

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The interesting thing here is the card Field of the Dead, but based on looking at the land base, it doesn't quite seem like Field is really well enabled by the deck. It's certainly an interesting idea, but I don't know how well it panned out for Reepl. I love the three Chains of Mephistopheles in the sideboard though.

The New Data Project

As you may have noticed some changes have been made this week as to how we're presenting data on the Challenge events. This is due in part to the successful startup weekend of the Legacy Data Collection project I mentioned last week's article. This effort is seeking to collect a large amount of data on the Challenges and be able to present a more complete picture of the overall metagame. As we continue to go along with this project the more data we acquire the better we will be able to see how the metagame is shaping up.

If this is something that you are interested in helping with and are either already playing in Legacy Challenge events or want to start and help with, please check out the Discord link here to join us.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend Phil Gallagher is killing some fools on Turn 1 with Oops. Check that out here.
  • The GOAT Negator77 was on Everyday Eternal. Check that out here.
  • 90sMTG with the classic Elves vs Reanimator matchup, check that out here.
  • I was on a podcast again! Check out the most recent episode of Leaving a Legacy here!
  • Team LotusBox is doing more Octagon events for Legacy. To keep up with all of this news, check out their Discord here.

The Spice Corner

THE GITROG MONSTER.

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Pokemoki with the Bigger Poke Pile.

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Bant Court of Cunning WHEE!

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Mono Red Sneak Attack splashing into blue for Show and Tell.

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This list is super spicy and beautiful. Yorion Birthing Pod.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm trying out some Sky Noodle business this week with Yorion G/Wr Reclaimer!

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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 on 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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