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This Week in Legacy: The Gods At War

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be taking a look at what cards from Theros: Beyond Death are already making their way into the Legacy format! In addition to that, our deck focus this week is on 4C/5C Loam, all while covering the Legacy Showcase Challenge this past weekend AND if that isn't enough, we got a little Spice Corner for you as well.

Without further ado, let's dive right into the thick of things, shall we?

The War of the Gods

We're two weeks into the new world that is Theros: Beyond Death, and sofar there are a few cards that have had quite an impact on Legacy. so let's take a look at how they're shaping up thus far.

Underworld Breach

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The talk of multiple formats at this point, Underworld Breach's possibilities in Legacy are quite literally endless. This card continues yet further the shift in design for truly powerfully busted cards. What makes Breach so incredibly strong is that it can be used in many different ways and the opportunity cost for slotting this card into a decklist with just a few Lion's Eye Diamond + Brain Freeze are exceptionally low, so much so that the card even showed up as part of a few Grixis Delver lists in addition to more focused Breach lists.

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Slotting this card into a Delver strategy makes for an interesting concept. Being able to turn a fair strategy into an unfair one makes for a solid approach to this card, but in general the card provides a way to provide value while not being too low of an opportunity cost.

Of course, the most common builds that have been showing up have been Jeskai variants utilizing another Theros: Beyond Death card, Thassa's Oracle, as a secondary win condition if the opponent has either Veil of Summer or Leyline of Sanctity. These versions have shown among the most competitive success thus far out of the different focused variants that have appeared.

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The big draw of these Jeskai versions is the fact that it allows the deck to very easily run Force of Will as well as other free countermagic like Pact of Negation (which when cast for 0 and 3 cards is pretty dirty), while also being able to run main deck cards like Orim's Chant (to prevent the opponent from interacting) and also Enlightened Tutor to find either an Underworld Breach or a Lion's Eye Diamond. The hilarious and ultimately brilliant thing about this variant is that it also gives the deck an insanely hilarious sideboard plan by shifting off of Breach entirely into more of a Monastery Mentor deck. This puts the deck in the situation of getting around graveyard hate and using Breach as a value engine with Mentor to win the game instead of being all in on the combo plan. This version is exceptionally powerful, being able to fight through seemingly unspeakable amounts of hate.

However, it's not just traditional Storm variants or even these Brain Freeze decks that Underworld Breach is seeing play in. It's even seeing play in shells containing cards like Karn, the Great Creator and Echo of Eons.

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The basic gist of this variant is to use Breach to loop cards with Mesmeric Orb and Voltaic Key until casting of Echo can take place and then basically continually looping with Paradox Engine in play. This allows the deck to generally make infinite mana in order to cast an exceptionally large Walking Ballista to finish the game, or to use Karn to fetch Mycosynth Lattice to lock up the game.

Further still is the interesting use of Breach with cards like Auriok Salvagers and Sevinne's Reclamation in a controlling shell that can also utilize the Bomberman combo to win the game as well.

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Breach seems to be the biggest card of Theros: Beyond Death, and I suspect we have yet to truly see the final evolution of this card. However, it is to be reminded that this card is flat busted in half still, and it is still very possible that this card becomes banned at some point.

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

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This is another card that has had a measure of success sofar in the past two weeks, while not nearly as dumb and widespread as Underworld Breach has been. Dryad shines at its best when placed in shells with utility lands or lands that are sometimes needed for acceleration like Ancient Tomb. For example, a BUG Sylvan Plug variant.

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The upside of Dryad in a deck like this is that it enables lands like Ancient Tomb and Waterlogged Grove to not have to deal damage to still be effective. Furthermore, the Exploration effect is exceptionally powerful in decks that play Mox Diamond. Furthering this trend is how this card appears in decks such as this Bant list.

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One other card that the Dryad works really well with is Life from the Loam both by enabling the casting of Loam with any of the deck's lands but also via the Exploration effect as well. 

Of course, there are a few other cards that are showing up here or there from this set, and we'll keep track of them more and more as we figure out what else from Theros: Beyond Death is good in this format.

The Legacy GP/MagicFest Situation

As most are aware of by now, CFB Events has released the updated MagicFest schedule through August of this year, and surprise surprise that there are no Legacy MagicFest main events on the docket at all. While this is actually just not very surprising of a move, the major response by the way of the CFB Events AMA that was held on Twitter was even worse.

I want to take a few moments to address this response. While there is some merit to the notion that Legacy's player numbers are likely lower currently than say Standard or Modern players (for many many reasons that we won't get into here because I could write an entire article about this subject likely), the attendance to MagicFests is a metric that I feel should be taken into account instead. That isn't to say that Wizards/CFB aren't using metrics to determine play numbers and how they tie into holding events, but that they're using the wrong metrics overall.

Let's take into account the fact that we had three Legacy GP events this past year, two in the United States and one in Europe. MagicFest Bologna had 1,596 players, while both Niagara Falls and Atlanta had in the range of lower/upper of 1,000 players approximately. Consequently, we had a Modern main event in my own state of Ohio (Magic Fest Columbus), that had 657 players. Now I get that this is a little bit of a apples to oranges comparison here, given that on average there are more Modern events in the year than there are Legacy events, but for an event such as this in Columbus to get such attendance is practically unheard of. For those unaware, Ohio and especially the region of Columbus through Dayton down to Cincy are very big on Modern. There are a ton of Modern players in this region, so it's generally wild to see an event like this get less than 1,000 players.

Now, I will acquiesce that again, there are more Modern events during the year than Legacy events. But that's the thing. Legacy players are not asking for multiple events every other week or two like how Modern / Pioneer / Standard gets. There are far more community events popping up this year that show that the community is really kicking butt on Legacy events, and we all know that it is basically impossible to see the kind of numbers that we got for the three GPs this past year if we had for example six - seven events a year as opposed to three. And at the end of the day, that's all that Legacy players are really ever wanting to fight for, a few large competitive events a year that provide solid top competition.

That being said, we know that Legacy doesn't really fit into the new world of E-Sports and Arena, and this change could represent a greater shift in how Wizards is approaching supporting the format. If that really is the case, and the possibility that we might not ever see a Legacy Grand Prix event ever again, then I feel like it would be prudent for Wizards to just come out and admit that they want to move forward and allow the community at large to continue supporting the format at a smaller scale. Of course, I know well and good that the community won't let us down.

Community Legacy Event Update

Over in France there is Card Market Paris, held from Friday February 7th - February 9th. If you're in that area check out the overview of the event here.

Shout out to the crew of Arizona Magic for their Legacy Series starting this past weekend! You can catch the coverage of this event on Twitch over here! The group even posted all 47 decklists from the event, listed over here.

The LoneStar Lhurgoyfs hosted a 30 person event in Texas, and posted the Top 8 of their event over on Twitter. Check that out here!

Also, as a followup to last week's article, all decklists from Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy are now on MTGGoldfish! You can check those out here.

 I don't believe I have any other community updates as of yet. This weekend is the Leaving a Legacy Open on February 1st, so next week we'll be talking about that as well! Be sure to check out their coverage of the event over on Twitch!

Deck Focus - Aggro-Loam

Our deck focus this week is on a deck that on paper, looks just like a mishmashed pile of cards tossed together, but is actually one of the format's more interesting and synergistic decks.

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Aggro-Loam (or 4C/5C Loam) is a deck that has been around for a while, all the way back to 2006 where the deck even then played the pairings of Mox Diamond and Chalice of the Void. Back then, the deck utilized threats like Countryside Crusher and Terravore as its more aggressive threats.

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These days the deck continues to be built to maximize redundancy and synergy, utilizing strong combinations of cards such as the interactions between Punishing Fire, Grove of the Burnwillows, and Liliana of the Veil as well as the synergy between Life from the Loam and Sylvan Library. Combined with powerful card advantage engines like Dark Confidant and aggressive threats such as Knight of the Reliquary, this deck can easily grind out games versus many decks.

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One of the things that makes this deck so good is the mana accelerative nature of Mox Diamond, in addition to the lock piece of Chalice of the Void. As a deck that can deploy a Turn 1 Chalice generally on 1, and then deploy a 3 drop turn 2 (either Liliana or Knight) and then start accruing advantage over the opponent, this deck has all the redundant tools to make that happen. From card advantage tools such as cycling lands to Dark Confidant, this is a deck that can take a long game and do well with it.

In recent times, the deck has evolved further, splashing blue for everyone's favorite Thief of Crowns, thus evolving it into more of a "5C" Loam status.

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Oko provides an interesting angle to the Aggro-Loam strategy, since it is yet another redundant threat that can play the long game and is great for grinding, but also synergizes well with some things the deck is already doing. Being able to turn a Mox Diamond or an extra Chalice of the Void into a surprise lethal finisher is a very real consideration with this deck.

Loam has often remained at the fringes of the Legacy format. However, in recent years the deck has become much more popular and well known among Legacy pilots, and even took down the Legacy Format Championship event this year in the hands of pilot Matt Vook. If you're looking for a synergistic deck that rewards consistent and careful play, this is a deck to consider.

Legacy Showcase Challenge 1/26

This weekend brought us our very first Legacy Showcase Challenge of the season. This was an event that requires QPs (Qualification Points) to enter, so of course the field entered into this was stacked. Let's take a look at the Top 8 of this event.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Underworld Breach 1st MentalMisstep (Stefan Schuetz)
Lands 3rd Alli
B/R Reanimator 4th EronRelentless
Aggro-Loam 5th Ozymandias17 (Matt Vook)
Dredge 6th Ark4n
Jeskai Underworld Breach 7th AnziD (Anuraag Das)
U/R Delver 8th TheStyle

The hot talk of this event was of course the Jeskai Underworld Breach deck, which went on to win the whole thing in the hands of MentalMisstep (Stefan Schuetz). As noted earlier, this has prompted a lot of discussion over the power level of this build and just how good this card is overall.

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This list is pretty much the same as the list we mentioned earlier, and it's easy to see why again that this is so strong, so we'll not spend too much time on it. Regardless, congrats to Stefan on his finish!

In Second Place we have a U/R Delver list!

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One thing that is pretty relevant in this list that has been popping up since the release of Theros is the presence of cards like Null Rod and Narset, Parter of Veils in the sideboard of this deck. Some of the popular versions of the Breach decks run Echo of Eons, and Narset is a solid way to combat that, while Null Rod is good at shutting off the mana rock acceleration required by the Breach decks.

In Third Place we've got straight R/G Lands splashing black.

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The splash here is mainly for Abrupt Decay; it seems and literally no other black cards in the 75. I think this is fine given that Decay is still a great card even in a format where Veil of Summer stops it from killing that pesky Oko.

In Fourth Place, we have Black/Red Reanimator!

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This is about as stock as it gets, and it's really wild to see cards like Magus of the Moon in the sideboard of this deck, but in all honesty it makes for a great tool against some of the grindy 4-color decks if it buys enough time to find a way to win.

Outside of the Top 8 and into the Top 32, this appeared to be a pretty interesting event with a lot of really solid players. I recognized many names here including everyone's favorite Sneak & Show pilot JPA93 in 11th place and TES Master Bryant Cook in 9th place of the event.

Furthermore, let's take a quick look at what cards from 2020 appear in the Top 32 of this event!

Card Name Number of Copies
Underworld Breach 12
Thassa's Oracle 3
Cling to Dust 2
Kunoros, Hound of Athreos 1
Ox of Agonas 1

Sofar only two weeks in and we're only seeing the major cards we've talked about in our set review, but it is still only two weeks in, so there are further chances and regular challenges to see more new cards show up. I know that I've seen here or there people trying out both Uro and Kroxas, so I'm excited to watch these lists as they evolve.

Around the Web

  • My pals Steve and Lawrence talk a little bit about Breach Freeze on Thirst for Knowledge, so check it out!
  • Ian and Tom of the Dead Format had the wonderfully awesome Wilson Hunter (of CardboardLive fame) on the cast and it was a fantastic episode!
  • The incredible Tom Hepp (Negator77) wrote a superb guide on Depths strategies over at MinMaxBlog.

The Spice Corner

The Spice Corner is super spicy this week, not gonna lie!

Our first one comes from the proclaimed Lord of Spice, Orim67 on CURSE STOMPY.

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Secondly we've got another cool showing of a Theros card in Staggering Insight with a deck focused on hexproof creatures like Invisible Stalker and True-Name Nemesis.

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What happens when you cut all of the cantrips from BUG Zenith Oko? You get this Chalice of the Void deck.

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Modo grinder Carey (aka solnox) gives us a sweet gift this week with a decklist that maximizes Karn, Dack, and Oko through the use of Liquimetal Coating!

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm digging a little bit into the combo side this week with MidMetMartin's Ovalchase Daredevil/Underworld Breach list. This deck is hilarious fun!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Hope you've enjoyed this journey into one of Magic's greatest formats! Join us next week as we continue the journey into 2020. After my first month with this column, I have to say that I'm really pleased with the response thus far to the articles. I work very hard on these things, and all I ever hope for is to bring consistent and quality content. In short, y'all are the real awesome ones, the readers, so you all just keep on doing you!

You can always catch me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord server as well as the /r/MTGLegacy Discord server and subreddit!

Until next time, keep casting Delvers!

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