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This Week in Legacy: The Innovation Continues

Here's another This Week in Legacy! This past week has been a pretty exciting one. With two larger events - a ChannelFireball $4k and a Mox Boarding House $1k Vegas GPT - occurring, in addition to the usual weekly Legacy Challenge. This week we'll be breaking down all these events, along with showing some technology old and new to keep track of for those jamming Legacy at GP Las Vegas. Like GP Louisville, that had a two-part primer, expect a big rundown of the format in the next two weeks to prep for that!

ChannelFireball $4k

An event of ninety-eight players is quite substantial, and the Top 8 broke down as below:

Deck Player Placing
ANT Galen Lamei 1
Elves John Kendall 2
RUG Lands Zack Wong 3-4
Maverick Isaac Sears 3-4
Bant DeathBlade David Doberne 5-8
Elves David Jacques 5-8
Food Chain Nick Kenrick 5-8
Dredge Daniel Clark 5-8

Many lists were what we've been expecting, though two Elves lists in the Top 8 certainly further confirms the Green creatures solid place in the metagame. Bant DeathBlade also continues to impress after its impressive showing at MKM Frankfurt, and is looking to the best Stoneblade variant currently thanks to its aggressive and proactive nature.

RUG Lands and Maverick are a little more unexpected, however.

RUG Lands sacrifices quick kills for a more inevitable late game, with Academy Ruins / Engineered Explosives and Crucible of Worlds in the mix. Interestingly, Zack decided not to utilize Intuition and leaned on the more typical Gamble as tutor of choice. Intuition is certainly clunky with its converted mana cost of three, and it's an understandable omission, as is Tolaria West for similar reasons. If anything, this list is very close to typical Lands but with a very light Blue splash. Interesting sideboard oddities include Ancient Tomb to accelerate Spheres against combo, as well as Warping Wail as addition removal or counterspell. I'm sure no one really expects that out of Lands! Also note the use of Sheltered Thicket in one of the cycling land slots, which is more useful when actually played, but can be a little clunky and inefficient when trying to speed up Loam Dredging. 

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This next Maverick list is honestly a work of art:

Four-on-the-floor of the big-hitters: Mom, Knight, Stoneforge, Thalia, Plow, and Zenith, with a light tutor package and nothing too fancy. The full trinity of equipment, and only Sylvan Library and Abrupt Decay as true flex slots. I really like what I see here, and it certainly reminds me of the consistent package of creatures that Death & Taxes has. The sideboard leans heavily on the Black splash with Thoughtseize and Zealous Persecution, which has been quite common, but the Liliana, the Last Hope is definitely a spicy one that goes great in a deck so creature-dense.

Mox Boarding House $1k

Deck Player Placing
Lands Alex Staver 1
Burn Isaac Espada 2
Jeskai Stoneblade Neil Henley 3-4
ANT Patrick Tierney 3-4
Death & Taxes Josh Monks 5-8
Elves Miles Wallio 5-8
Grixis Delver Kevin Wallace 5-8
Grixis Delver Michael Wallio 5-8

This Top 8 offers nothing too spicy, though seeing Lands and Elves makes quite a statement. Jeskai Stoneblade also made an appearance, and I hope that, despite Miracle's resurgence, Stoneblade still has a reasonable spot in the metagame. If anything, Stoneblade can give Miracles a bit of a headache, as Stoneforge and her equipment is no longer something to scoff at without instant-speed Terminus. True-Name is also a huge pain to get off the table.

5/28/17 Legacy Challenge

Another week, another Legacy challenge. Here's how the Top 8 breakdown, as well as a fuller look at all the decks:

Deck Player Placing
RB Reanimator capsula1 1
TES Bryant_Cook 2
BUG Delver Zam_ 3
BR Reanimator ekieling 4
Grixis Delver learntolove6 5
Deadguy Ale JeffHoogland 6
UB Delver Guk_Dukat 7
Bant Deathblade Maxtortion 8

Looking at the Top 8, Black-Red Reanimator dominated, putting two into the Top 8 and one taking down the whole tournament. capsula1's list main decked Collective Brutality over the faster Unmask, which I particularly like with the current metagame of Deathrite Shaman decks. Many lists incorporate Children of Korlis and Archetype of Endurance in their sideboards as well. Children can be continually eaten to fuel Griselbrand and draw more and more cards, likely culminating in reanimating multiple fatties to lock out the opponent. Archetype is an excellent reanimation target after Griselbrand is in play. Griselbrand, especially against Karakas, sometimes doesn't get the job done, so finding a second reanimation target to protect him is a nice bit of utility to have. The pig is also huge in his own right. ekieling opted for the White splash in his sideboard, similar to Walter's list at MKM Frankfurt. I like this a little more, as my experience with Wear // Tear in Dredge has been quite positive, especially with so many Chalice and Blood Moon decks running around.

Jeff Hoogland has been back to Legacy after the banning of Top, and has 5-0'ed and Top 8'ed this Challenge with a really spicy number.

Any purely Black-White disruptive midrangey deck has always been known to Legacy players as Deaguy Ale, named after Chris Pikula's Dark Confidant and Hypnotic Specter deck from the first Legacy GP. Hoogland has updated the archetype with some very interesting cards - or lack of cards. The first notable card lacking in his list is Deathrite Shaman. This deck has a notably clunky curve (there's a lot of three drops in this list), so I'm a bit amazed Deathrite has been eschewed, especially since a Bayou is already being splashed for Gaddock Teeg. I suppose the plethora of one-mana discard leaves little space in the curve for the Elf Shaman. Speaking of discard, there is quite a bit in this list. In addition to Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek is present and Collective Brutality is one again showing its strength in fair decks similar to Ben Friedman's list from last week. Brutality is also pretty neat with Lingering Souls involved. Tidehollow Sculler is another underplayed gem that Hoogland is utilizing, and is excellent against unfair and fair decks alike.

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Probably the greatest stand-out in the main deck is, however, Gideon of the Trials.

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Gideon is quite exciting thanks to his flexibility. Against unfair decks, the third ability should win the game, at least in game one, as there is little interaction a deck like Storm has with a planeswalker. Combo decks that cheat a huge creature into play may be more of an issue (Emrakul just swallows him up), but it certainly gives the Deadguy player a bit more time. Against fair decks, Gideon can continue to fog a single creature (such as a Delver, for example) or simply get the beatdowns going. There's a lot to love, but one has to be wary of Gideon getting tempoed out by a simple Lightning Bolt or Abrupt Decay and achieving nothing.

In a similar fashion, Willy Edel brought Jund:

Instead of leaning on Bob like Hoogland, Willy Edel has eschewed Dark Confidant completely, playing a lean, mean Bloodbraid Elf machine. Unlike other Jund lists, Willy has maximized the number of one-mana spells in his deck, utilizing eight pieces of one-mana removal, two main deck Red Elemental Blast (!!!)  and the usual package of Thoughtseize. His list is further flush with removal in the form of Abrupt Decay. This looks like it can very effectively curve out and crush fair decks, especially Delver, but definitely suffers against combo decks game one. Willy has splashed White to remedy this, utilizing Containment Priest and Ethersworn Canonist for Reanimator/Sneak & Show and Storm respectively and Duress and Collective Brutality further padding out the discard suite.

Although not appearing in the League, I'd also like to highlight a list by good friend Ethan Gaieski - who I forgot to congratulate here on his recent Top 8 at GP Montreal! He's been brewing and preparing for GP Vegas, and has come to a very spict Punishing Fire list - with Brainstorms, Ponders and Leovold too!

A strange mashup of Punishing Jund and... Blue cards, this list is like a leaner evolution of the Punishing Fire / Dack Fayden lists we've been seeing. Nonetheless, Punishing Fire is exceptionally positioned currently, grinding out the popular Grixis Delver and Stoneblade decks (as long as True-Name Nemesis doesn't find his way to the battlefield), most non-blue creature decks, like Elves and Death & Taxes, and also ruining the new Miracles list thanks to Counterbalance being relevant. It's admittedly not great against combo - but the suite of Thoughtseize, Spell Pierce, and Hymn that Ethan has equipped this list with looks to remedy that quite well.

Moving on, many cried out as Death & Taxes looked to be fading into irrelevance. It's poor appearance at MKM Frankfurt along with its absence Online have left many wondering what to do. But in this Challenge, Death & Taxes proved that it's still fighting on, with new and old tools at its disposal.

These White-Red-Black lists (or Mardu, I suppose) have been continually popping up recently, leveraging the power of Magus of the Moon and Orzhov Pontiff. Pia and Kiran Nalaar often join the party too. Many, such as Bahra, have been incorporating Chalice of the Void into lists to punish combo further, but losing Swords to Plowshares I feel is a big loss against Delver and many of the midrangey lists. I like a lot of what Darkwonyx has brought, especially in terms of the mana base and sideboard. Cutting Rishadan Port down, although perhaps a cost consideration, helps add more colored mana and makes non-creature Red spells, like the always-powerful Red Elemental Blast and Red sweepers like Blazing Volley or Sudden Demise usable - the latter being incredibly appreciated against the current influx of Elves.

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The one card I find very suspect, however, is Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Alesha's ability is incredibly mana-intensive and forcing Alesha, and the creature revived, to attack I imagine can be awkward in certain situations. That being said, I'm sure it can have utility in certain situations and create a lot of value.

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Egget also found success with Death & Taxes in this Challenge, but leaned harder on the Black splash. Orzhov Pontiff found its way into the main deck, and in the sideboard the additional crippling Karakas-protected hatebear Kambal, Consul of Allocation is found. Although Death & Taxes can grind quite well already thanks to the Flickerwisp / Recruiter package, Dark Confidant is something I always consider when looking towards a deeper Black splash. There's obviously a lot of different directions Death & Taxes players are taking, and even stock mono-White lists are still finding moderate success, as seen in EronRelentless' list from the Challenge and Josh Monk's list from the Mox Boarding House $1k.

Although I'm currently on a reasonable stock mono-White list, if I were to go deeper into Mardu, I might try something like this:

Goblins has felt pretty great without Port, and that same mentality transfers to this list. White mana is no longer at a shortage despite the double splash, Cavern of Souls and Wasteland, which is why I've typically shied away from the splashing lists - the mana felt horrible. This also means that Red spells from the sideboard and double White spells are still castable, and Council's Judgment and Sudden Demise are great options to shore up a variety of problems.

The last list from the Challenge I'd like to mention is that of DanDeluxe13!

RUG Delver baby! DanDeluxe13 has gone a bit off the deep-end with some of his choices, however. The main deck Rough // Tumble and Divert also feel a little bit loose to me, but the Seal of Fires are definitely feasible as additional removal spells that also grow Goyf. I also really like the threat suite here - four Delvers and four Mandrills feels like the current best configuration for RUG Delver now that Mongoose has no Miracles to prey on and more Deathrite Shamans to deal with. The two Tarmogoyfs are also not as bad as they seem, despite Fatal Push knocking him down a peg. Grixis Delver in particular can struggle against a Goyf, particularly one that has grown into a 5/6. Note that Li Xi and Theodore Ekenstedt also kept the RUG flame going this week!


And that brings us to the finish of an This Week in Legacy. As always, here's some great Legacy content from around the web to check out:

Next week, expect a big rundown of what to look out for before GP Las Vegas!

Til' then!

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I'm Playing This Week

Surprisingly, I've been jamming a little bit of Top-less Miracles in my down time. The deck is exceptionally fun, challenging and draws tonnes of card. And who doesn't like that?

To the chagrin of my pure control loving friends, however, I have been trying to push the Predict, twelve cantrip, Jace and Terminus card advantage engine even further. I feel there's a lot of unexplored space and a lot of cards that could potentially get great use out of all the card velocity the new Miracles lists achieve. You know, maybe this guy:

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Mentor has been seeing play universally as a sideboard option in many of the new Miracles lists, but like the quad-Mentor lists touted by Claudio Bonnani and The Brainstorm Show during Top's reign, he may be able to find his way into the main deck of a more aggressively-slanted new Miracles list. It can still grind with Predict, but it can also kill random oddball matchups out of the blue too.

Honestly, the Dazes are probably a little too loose, and although they have been fine in testing, I'm sure adding an extra Predict and an extra Jace could help the cards flow even better. But I've really disliked Entreat (although I know many people love it), due to it essentially being a sorcery-speed win condition, and as a person who only knows how to Delver, playing land drops past the fifth feels... Strange.

Nonetheless, there's been a lot of amazingly development in this new Miracles archetype. I'm excited to see how far this newly discovered engine based on Predict can go. Is a Black splash with Therapy/Probe/Mentor possible? Will the Legends build return? Who knows. But I hope everyone keeps experimenting in the weeks ahead.

The Spice Corner

Counter Company has been getting big in Modern... But what about in Legacy?!

This reminds me of Food Chain in some ways, in that it has an infinite mana combo built in, which can lead to tutoring up devastating fatties. Green Sun's Zenith, Chord of Calling and Recruiter of the Guard all find combo pieces or protection (in the form of Sylvan Safekeeper) - with the final combo piece being... Spawnsire of Ulamog into casting all the Eldrazi. Fun. I'm surprised Cabal Therapy isn't included in this list to sac the random Recruiters and redundant dorks lying around.

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