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This Week in Legacy: The God of Lies Strikes Back

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 continuing a dive into the card Valki, God of Lies and the decks that have sprung up around this card in Legacy. In addition to that we have two Challenges this past weekend, and of course as always our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Tibalt, Tibalt, Tibalt!

Last week I touched a bit on the interactions between Valki, God of Lies and the Cascade mechanic. My initial impressions of this card were that it was good, but not back-breaking and seemed like a strong and interesting thing to do with Cascade. A card that might bring Shardless Agent based BUG decks back again. There was some hesitance amongst the community and I was on record as saying I didn't think it would be that bad.

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I am always one to admit when I feel I am wrong about something, and I think I might have ended up being a little too wrong about Tibalt. In the past week, a new deck has arisen, one that is focused on cascading into a Tibalt quickly, sometimes as early as Turn one. The popularity of this deck skyrocketed in last weekend's Challenge events and has yet again prompted a lot of discussion on what would need to happen to address the problem with the God of Lies.

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Dubbed "Turbo Tibalt" by many, the game plan of this deck is pretty simple. Cast one of the 12 Cascade spells in the deck and get a Tibalt in play as quickly as possible. Then start using Tibalt, backed up by a boat load of free countermagic, to start winning the game by both denying the opponent of resources and cards but also to start playing their deck against them. To also seal the deal quickly is that many of the builds often play cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns and sometimes Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath (threats vary from list to list) to also have strong plays as well that help close games out.

The power of this deck is fairly high on par with some of the other early combo decks of the format, but what really pushes it is the fact that it's running eight Force effects plus four copies of Misdirection to back up its plan. The major downside of this deck is that it can't play any other spells CMC two or less than Valki, God of Lies because of needing to be able to always hit with Cascade. This does mean that the deck mulligans very much like a combo deck, seeking to find a game plan and some protection for said game plan.

As noted, the appearance of this deck is not something that is utterly unique to Legacy. Modern is also dealing with a version of this deck as well, which is prompting the question of how does Wizards address this issue?

The biggest way that seems the most likely to end up occurring is for the rules to be changed on how MDFC cards interact with effects like Cascade that allow for casting of spells in this fashion. I don't believe that any such change will be made exactly like the Split Card situation because I don't feel it is possible to force that as a one sized fits all situation (imagine if you flipped Valki off Dark Confidant and lost nine life for example). I would rather some form of new rules baggage attached to MDFCs that covers these specific situations, of which thankfully there is really only Cascade and cards like Bring to Light.

This seems like the most attractive option given how this has infested other formats as well. The other option is that they simply ban the offending card in Valki/Tibalt, but that seems a lot less likely at this point.

The biggest thing this deck has going against it currently in representation numbers however is the price of the deck. Besides the fact that Valki/Tibalt itself is almost 100 tix, the deck also plays four copies of Force of Will and Force of Negation. The majority of these decks are well over some of the rental limits set forth by both Cardhoarder and ManaTraders at a little over 1100 - 1300 tix. It's not known if the deck would see a lot more play if it was less expensive or not.

While this is certainly a glass cannon all-in strategy, I'm yet again reminded of another similar strategy in the Gyruda combo decks, so I do suspect that a rules change will occurr, and hopefully soon. My main concern is that this is yet another big broken shift in the overall Legacy metagame that could give Wizards pause to take action on other cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns. It makes it difficult to address these situations when the format keeps breaking every other set.

Will Tibalt stick around? Will the metagame adjust after its breakout performance this past weekend? Or will Wizards issue a rules change for MDFC cards? Only time will tell.

Legacy Challenge 2/6

As noted, we had two Challenges last weekend. Thanks to the efforts of the Legacy Data Collection project we know we had 53 players in the Saturday event, which is the early morning event. This is still down from last week, and whether this is a trend or not is certainly concerning. It is worth noting that this past weekend was also the ManaTraders Vintage Swiss event, so that could have pulled players away from an already fair attendance event (typically 60-70ish players on average). Regardless, we continue to track this sort of data and also keeping track of Challenge attendance to see how things pan out.

Let's take a look at the graphs.

Both Turbo Tibalt and RUG Delver had a big presence in this event, but RUG Delver's conversion didn't do super well, only putting on pilot overall into the Top 8 of the event. Turbo Tibalt was the talk of the town overall on Saturday, with worries as to how it might affect the Sunday event.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Turbo Tibalt 1st Ark4n
Reanimator 2nd YURAI-WHITECATS
Yorion Zenith 3rd Masumaro
RUG Delver 4th wakarock
Turbo Tibalt 5th altniccolo
Hullbreacher Snowko 6th LeoFa
Hullbreacher Snowko 7th Ozymandias17
Hullbreacher Snowko 8th trunks132

Quite a bit of Snow variants in this Top 8, between Yorion Zenith and three variants of Hullbreacher Snowko. Turbo Tibalt put two copies into the Top 8, but it was the list we shared earlier that truly went the extra mile in the hands of Ark4n by piloting to a 9-0 undefeated finish overall.

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One of the big things to note from talking about this deck earlier is the big presence of sideboard cards like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. The last time Lavinia saw any real amount of play in Legacy was during the Underworld Breach era of the metagame, and it showing up in a big way like this is pretty telling. Generally when Lavinia is coming out to play, there's something likely wrong with the format at that point.

The Second Place finalist was on Reanimator.

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What I found interesting here was no frills like the Children of Korlis plan that has become pretty typical to most BR Reanimator strategies. Sphinx of the Steel Wind is a sweet way of getting around cards like Tibalt, since it can't be exiled by Tibalt due to having pro-red. Also, Reanimator staple Sire of Insanity. ALSO there is a Dawnglade Regent in the sideboard. Now that is super sweet.

Also in the Top 8 on a tear of three Legacy Challenge Top 8's in a row is Matt Vook (Ozymandias17) on Snowko.

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This list seems pretty powerful. Not quite a full on combo with Hullbreacher, but you don't really need that to make the card good. Arcanist continues to show off how incredibly powerful it really is however with this kind of list.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a sweet list show up in Yorion Elves.

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Want to play Elves but can't choose between the four Shepherd build or the four Elvish Reclaimer build? Smash them all together and sprinkle some Sky Noodle on top. This list is super sweet and it even has cards like Coiling Oracle in it. How can you not love Coiling Oracle?!

Legacy Challenge 2/7

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event. This event had 94 players in it, which is also down from last week. Obviously, this past weekend was a relatively large sporting event (you might have heard of it) so it's definitely possible that had an impact on attendance (people not wanting to spend all day in a seven round event, etc.). Again, we'll continue to track these numbers and see if we can produce a trend. It is certainly possible that players are choosing to voice their displeasure with the Legacy format by not playing in these events, but we will just have to see over time.

Let's dive into the charts.

Turbo Tibalt's presence was felt in much greater numbers than the first-weekend event, taking almost a whopping 20% of the overall Challenge metagame. RUG Delver was in second in metagame share, being outpaced by another deck which has not happened in a while in these events.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Delver 1st Gul_Dukat
Turbo Tibalt 2nd jacetmsst
Snowko 3rd Wurst_
Turbo Tibalt 4th billsive
Turbo Tibalt 5th GobFTW
RUG Delver 6th joker10289
Burn 7th termidor
Doomsday 8th Enrichetta

Turbo Tibalt again had a powerful presence in this Top 8 for sure, putting three copies into the Top 8 overall. At the end of the event, the finals were split between the two finalists Gul_Dukat and jacetmsst, on RUG Delver and Turbo Tibalt respectively.

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Gul_Dukat is on his current build of RUG Delver here, favoring Hooting Mandrills over other threats. We also see a number of Blue Elemental Blast in the sideboard for the Tibalt decks respectively, since it's a little harder to Misdirect a BEB over a Hydroblast.

The Turbo Tibalt list is intriguing for sure, given that eschews the Oko sub plan for cards like Hullbreacher and Day's Undoing. Also, this variant doesn't have as many Cascade spells (only eight as opposed to twelve). The Shifting Ceratops in the sideboard is also highly unique. Very interesting list indeed.

Also in the Top 8 of this event, we had a showing by Burn!

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No main deck Roiling Vortex here that has been seen in other lists, but just a lot of straight direct damage spells. Seems pretty good!

Outside of the Top 8 we had a cool showing from classic B/W Deadguy Ale.

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DGA is classically categorized by the presence of both Dark Confidant and Stoneforge Mystic as well as Liliana of the Veil. This list checks all those boxes and adds new threats like Opposition Agent.

Also in the Top 32 is a U/W Thassa's Oracle combo deck utilizing the card Thought Lash.

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The biggest reason to splash white here is for Teferi, Time Raveler and good sideboard cards plus premium removal in Swords to Plowshares in the sideboard as well. This is a super interesting deck for sure.

Around the Web

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The Spice Corner

This is a deck that alli has been calling "Staxfinity" on Twitter. Seems really super interesting.

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Bant Spirits!

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Esper Control in 2021?! Court of Cunning and Court of Grace AND Unsubstantiate?!?!?!

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Splinter Twin + Hullbreacher Combo!

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This is a list I've heard Reeplcheep refer to as "Bumbleberry Pie". It's an Esper Miracles-like variant utilizing Aminatou, the Fateshifter.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm still playing the Karn Echo deck for the time being and have had a lot of interesting games with it!

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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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