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This Week in Legacy: The Legacy Round Table, Part Deux


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've assembled yet again the Legacy Round Table to discuss the current state of the Legacy format as well as some contentious cards that are on a lot of Legacy players minds lately. In addition to that, we've got two weekly Challenge events to look at as well as the PAX Online Legacy Championship, and of course as always our Spice Corner.

Before we get into things, I do want to mention a correction to last week's article. The article incorrectly stated that Karn Echo won the NRG Legacy Event over RUG Delver, when it was actually RUG Delver that won. I chalk this up to MTGMelee's website not being correctly updated and reported properly when I was finishing up my article on that Monday.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Roundest of Round Tables - Legacy  Format Health

I had mentioned for a while that we would be doing these articles periodically, and it's a great initiative to get the input of various content creators and Legacy enthusiasts across the format. This article we have a set of different content creators to talk to from last time, giving each of these a fresh new perspective on the health of the Legacy format. Let's meet our contributors, shall we?

We've got a great group lined up here, so let's get right to it!

Topic #1 - Should Arcum's Astrolabe be banned in Legacy currently? Explain your reasoning.

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Phil Gallagher: No.  I don’t think Arcum's Astrolabe is a ban-worthy card based on power level in Legacy.  This is the format where turn one Griselbrand is a thing you deal with in an average Legacy league.  If that gets a pass, I can’t imagine coming down on a cantripping artifact that fixes mana.  While some of the “mana fixers” of the past like Deathrite Shaman and Wrenn and Six have gotten the axe, those cards frequently won the game on their own; Arcum's Astrolabe just doesn’t do that.  When you lead on a turn 1 Arcum's Astrolabe and then your opponent casts Rite of Flame or another combo enabler, the ol’ Astrolabe doesn’t feel so good...

Now that being said, I do think Arcum's Astrolabe is a design mistake.  I hate that players now often can’t play with their favorite basic land art because it is frequently sub-optimal to not be playing Snow-Covered lands.  I hate how it enables 4-5 color good stuff decks.  I hate how it really makes control decks not have a real color identity with strengths and weaknesses.  If it leaves the format, I won’t be sad about it, but I couldn’t justify banning this one.

Peter van der Ham: With Legacy’s best Wasteland deck still on top of the format, I don’t see how Arcum's Astrolabe is a significant issue. Additionally, I’ve seen the argument that Arcum's Astrolabe enables Oko, Thief of Crowns which we can see, from the results of RUG Delver, isn’t intrinsically true. I also believe that putting Snow-Covered basic lands in your deck, and spending mana to fix your colors are real drawbacks; especially if other people are advancing their board state or getting card selection in that time frame. There was a time when (Yorion) Snow Control decks were on the top of the format that there was a reasonable argument against Arcum's Astrolabe, but as it sits, I don’t think it necessitates action.

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There are two positive influences from Arcum's Astrolabe; The lessened consistency of Blood Moon as a lock piece, and promoting non-Chalice of the Void artifact strategies. Besides these points I don’t think the influence of Astrolabe is all that positive on the format, as it homogenized control decks. Thus, while I’d argue that no action is needed and I like no action to be taken on Arcum's Astrolabe, I wouldn’t be upset if it goes away as most of the meta game will be unaffected. My main complaint here would be that it would set up a dangerous narrative, as I think Arcum's Astrolabe is quite a bit below what I’d consider needing to be banned.

Andreas Reling: No, it shouldn’t be banned because it makes Worldgorger Dragon playable! Just kidding, I don’t think the card is bad for the health of the format as it makes cards worse that lead to miserable gameplay experiences like Wasteland, Blood Moon and Back to Basics.

Max Gilmore: From a perspective strictly considering balance, the decks using Arcum's Astrolabe aren't oppressive, and Snowko can be built to have a somewhat favorable matchup against the best deck in the format, RUG Delver, which is a good thing. 

However, I wish the card were never printed. We have over 25 years of beautiful basic land art, and it sucks that all but three of them are now suboptimal to play. Basic land choice is one of the classic ways that Magic players can express themselves through their deck, and Arcum's Astrolabe took that away.

There's also a "fun" factor to consider. While obviously I can only speak for myself, I despise playing against Snowko. The games felt so tedious to me that during the window where Snowko was the most played deck in the format, I took a 6 week break from Legacy. On my first match back, I queued into Snowko, closed Magic Online, and didn't open the program for an additional week. 

I want the card gone so badly that I need to overcome a ton of bias to rationally state that Arcum's Astrolabe should not be banned at this point.

In Response Cast:  We think with the current iteration of the meta, RUG Delver is the dominant force. Therefore the Snowko Decks, led by Arcum's Astrolabe, are needed to keep Delver at bay. The insurance that Astrolabe provides against Wasteland is needed to withstand the sheer power of the early soft permission of  Delver. So besides personal views we think that at this stage in this meta, there isn’t a single rational argument that Arcum's Astrolabe needs to be banned.

Topic #2 - Should Oko, Thief of Crowns be banned in Legacy currently? Explain your reasoning.

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Phil Gallagher: Yes. I think the power level of Oko is appropriate for a ban.  Oko is so strong that it is often a fine addition to just about any archetype, even if the card is not synergistic with the rest of the deck or even close to the primary gameplan of the deck.  I’ve played D&T as my primary Legacy deck for about ten years, switching to other fair non-blue decks like Red Prison when the meta is very unfavorable for D&T. I have stopped playing in Premier events because most of the decks in my wheelhouse fold to Oko, even if I hedge towards beating it.  When I’m playing Red Prison, Oko feels approximately like a 7-for-1; it undoes just about everything I’ve done in a game, no matter what turn it is.  I don’t think that’s really okay for a three mana card.

More importantly, this card has warped Legacy in ways that go beyond just gameplay.  I am watching my friends sell their paper and Magic Online collections because they are tired of Oko.  I have halved the amount of Magic content that I am producing. I had to change my content production model because of this card. I have started producing content for another game, Monster Train, because I fear the death of Legacy.  I have turned down content production opportunities because of this card.  I am considering not attending the 100k Legacy tournament next year because I don’t like my odds of playing fair in the Oko world.  And as one last note, the card still doesn’t function properly on Magic Online despite being one of the most prominent cards in multiple formats for an extended period of time.  Please kick this card into the sun as soon as possible.

Peter van der Ham: I believe Oko, Thief of Crowns has a worse reputation than it deserves. But the difficult part for me here is that, as someone who likes to play decks that either go over the top of such cards or are tempo orientated, it feels a bit like I’m on the outside looking in with regards to the Oko discussion. I don’t think Oko as a card is too powerful for Legacy, as there are many decks that simply don’t care about the effect it has on the game, and other decks can easily play into it with cards like Daze and Pyroblast.

Though I too recognize that Oko’s unique set of abilities influences the decks it’s played in strategically to such a degree that it impacts the playability of other cards and archetypes. This influence results in the fact that I feel that Oko is fine in the current meta, and that’s also been my argument against action for a long time, but that skips an important step. Oko’s presence has pushed out strategies that are weak to it and put more focus on either going under it or over the top of it, this is to say that it has warped the meta game around it. There are many strategies that are good against the card Oko, Thief of Crowns but these largely consist of low-interaction combo decks that don’t care about the board state, or decks that go under it.

I’m still not so far that I’d argue to get Oko banned, but I’m warming up to the idea. My main problem here would be that the current green snow decks are likely to continue to be on top of the meta, as cards like Uro are still incredibly powerful and can be even harder to deal with. The main gain from removing Oko is that it relieves a lot of the stress that’s currently being put on artifacts like Aether Vial and Chalice of the Void, and that might just be enough.

Andreas Reling: Yes, Oko, Thief of Crowns is a threat to the health of Legacy and needs to go sooner or later. It’s the best Planeswalker card ever printed and fits in every strategy. It’s a solution for problematic permanents, a clock that wins fast on its own and even a recurring source of lifegain - all in one card that doesn’t ask much or comes with any deck building restrictions. This card will make most other Planeswalker cards unplayable and pushes strategies and cards out of the meta game.

Max Gilmore: Yes, get rid of Oko. It's the centerpiece of the "no bad matchups" profile of Delver, and is a large part of what makes Snowko so infuriating to play against.

Chalice? Elk. Marit Lage? Elk. Emrakul? Elk. It's so frustrating that the world's best "fair" card just so happens to also be perfectly suited towards beating unfair things too (with a notable exception being Tendrils of Agony). Even when it's at its worst, it's a reasonable clock and pitches to Force of Will.

Let's let other colors breathe. Ban Oko. In fact, let's ban every Mythic with a 1UG casting cost printed in the past 12 months, just to be safe.

In Response Cast: Long story short, Oko needs to be banned. In other words Oko sees play in way too many archetypes. It has seen play in sideboards of various combo decks or basically in every deck that has access to UG. That pushes out any other deck that doesn’t have access to these colors or that have a plan that does commit to the board. The only way to fight Oko effectively is to win through a combo on the stack, just ignore him or play your own Oko.

Topic #3 - Should Veil of Summer be banned in Legacy currently? Explain your reasoning.

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Phil Gallagher: No.  This card is, unquestionably, incredibly powerful and on the threshold of what is acceptable in Legacy, but unlike many cards that are potentially ban-worthy, it is not universally good in every matchup.  Veil of Summer is a just dead card against many decks of the format.  While the floor for a card like Oko is that it is a three mana threat that will win the game given enough time, the floor for Veil of Summer is that it does literally nothing.  As such, maindecking a Veil of Summer is a real choice for many decks rather than a universally correct call.  Additionally, not every UG deck plays this card.  I think that leaves Veil of Summer in an okay place in terms of power level.

That said, Veil of Summer is also one of the biggest blowout and “feel bad” cards that I’ve ever seen.  A one mana cantripping counterspell is brutal to play against.  It’s the sort of thing that I can see driving players from the game.  I do think this card has really pushed discard-based strategies to a bad place (though 2019/2020 design more generally has done that as well).  For example, when was the last time you saw someone cast a Hymn to Tourach?  I think removing it from the format probably creates a better play experience as a whole.  The decks that play Veil of Summer lose very little, but the decks that struggle with Veil of Summer become more viable. Like with Astrolabe though, if all Wizards of the Coast is looking at is power level and win rates, Veil of Summer is probably not worth banning.

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Peter van der Ham: Of all the cards that are, and have been, suggested for banning I think Veil of Summer is the most individually powerful one. While it’s currently seeing less play than some of the other contenders, that’s mostly due to the impact Veil of Summer itself has had on the playability of other cards. Veil of Summer promotes powerful proactive magic instead of reactive strategies, and it pushes hard on the playability of the best non-blue disruption in Thoughtseize.

While I don’t think Veil of Summer necessarily enables any more broken things that are available without it, I also don’t think that it promotes the type of decks I think I’d like to promote. With my personal hesitant stance on banning cards, Veil of Summer doesn’t make my ban threshold, but I also don’t mind seeing this one go away.

I would like to note that if green control decks stay the norm through the Zendikar Rising period, and many other combo and tempo decks continue to select green as their optional color, I do like action against green decks in general. So while I said I wouldn’t actively vote for action against Oko or Veil on an individual level, I could see taking them as scapegoats for green’s dominance and just getting rid of them for meta game diversity.

Andreas Reling: Yes, Veil of Summer killed my pet deck ANT (Ad Nauseam Tendrils) and I hate it for that reason. On a more serious note I think this card pushes Legacy more into proactive gameplay and punishes strategies that want to interact and drag out games. Legacy was the last safe haven for me where battles were fought with intellect and planning ahead while preparing epic counter wars and getting rewarded for the smart use of discard spells.

Today, Legacy is about getting ahead on board - like every other power-creep driven, snowbally Format - and putting a Discard or Counterspell on the stack feels dangerous and stupid as it could get you 2-for-1ed. That’s not the Format I fell in love with.

Max Gilmore: Yes. Veil of Summer is a miserable Magic card that only serves to restrict the types of strategies viable in Legacy. Not only does a decision not to play green remove your access to the card, but cards like Thoughtseize got a lot worse, and Hymn to Tourach became unplayable.

Besides, TES just won the Magic Online PTQ 9/12 and Sunday Challenge 9/13 back to back. Well, Bryant did. I'm actually going to go on record and say that TES is the best Veil of Summer deck in the format, since Veil protects you from discard, countermagic, and you can cast it proactively before casting Echo of Eons in order to make sure that whatever 7 cards your opponent draws is irrelevant. The correct response from a deck dominating a weekend is to ban a card from it, right?

While that last part is a joke (aside from the fact that I do actually think TES is the deck best able to leverage Veil of Summer), I do think the Legacy format would be more fun and diverse without it.

In Response Cast: We don’t understand all the hate against Veil of Summer, maybe because all the good cards since F.I.R.E. were green. Although it's a very pushed card and certainly one of the most format defining cards of the last year, it’s power level is on par with the format inherently. There are ways to fight through Veil, eg. Mindbreak Trap is a known counter for this card, and it's at most a color hoser like in the original sets. The strongest argument one can make for Veil of Summer is that it is not only good in combo decks, but also against them.

Topic #4 - Are there any other cards that should be considered for banning or put on a “watch list” for banning? Explain your reasoning.

Phil Gallagher: Yes.  RUG Delver is probably approaching levels of dominance and metagame saturation that it’s probably time to start looking at taking something out of that deck.  Bryant Cook, Brian Coval, and I recently recorded an episode of The Eternal Glory podcast dubbed “If We Were WotC” in which we discuss this exact issue. Here’s the link if you have two hours to kill and want to hear a deep dive on the topic. Dreadhorde Arcanist is the card I have my eye on personally.  Like Oko, it is a card that snowballs a game out of control and is very difficult for fair decks to beat.

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Peter van der Ham: No, I generally think Legacy is in a fine place. We’re also on the cusp of having another set released that looks to give Death & Taxes some breath of life, and will give fast combo decks more power through versatility. The latter of which is likely to influence the metagame, and will make people potentially move further away from Oko decks.

I do want to note that I’d keep an eye on the health of the meta game as the new Modal DFC Lands look to empower all-in combo strategies. While I don’t think these strategies will become as powerful or resilient as we saw from the Underworld Breach combo decks earlier this year, I do think there’s a risk they might become a bit too influential on the construction of other decks (like putting an even higher premium on Force of Will and Force of Negation).

Andreas Reling: Honestly, there is a number of cards that I deem unfun/problematic for Legacy gameplay but they come from WOTC‘s new way to design cards and you can’t ban them all if they keep printing cards like Karn, Plague Engineer, Underworld Breach, Oko, Arcanist, Veil, Wrenn and Six, Coatl, Lurrus, Teferi, Time Raveler, Narset… just to name a few from the last year.

Uro is getting to an annoying point though, where it invalidates most other ways to win in a fair way for Midrange and Control strategies and as soon as Oko leaves the format this card will become problematic.

Max Gilmore: Looking at deck representation at the top of the larger online Legacy tournaments, the format appears to be relatively balanced, and since a new set just came out, I don't think any other cards should necessarily be banned.

However, there is a laundry list of cards printed since War of the Spark that have, in my opinion, made the format less fun than it was in the years prior. Generally speaking, I would like to eliminate the cards that support the game plan of leveraging free countermagic to protect your threats that effectively put you up an additional card every turn until you have completely run away with the game. The biggest offenders here are Dreadhorde Arcanist and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

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In Response Cast: We advocate for no bans other than Oko, Thief of Crowns, but nonetheless there should be a watchlist for certain cards. Namely Dreadhorde Arcanist and to a lesser degree Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. However, not only 2019 cards should be on this list because there might be a reason that since the Sensei's Divining Top ban, there was always a Wasteland-Delver-Daze-Shell as the best deck.

Topic #5 - Are there any cards that could be considered for unbanning? Explain your reasoning.

Phil Gallagher: I’d be interested in unbanning Lurrus of the Dream-Den.  I loved the gameplay patterns with that card and it enabled a bunch of really interesting decks like true White Weenie which hadn’t seen play in years.  With the changes to the Companion rule, Lurrus is probably fine in Legacy.  That said, the Companion era left a bitter taste in the mouths of many players, and it still is probably a bit too soon to release that evil on the world again.  I’d love to experimentally unban Lurrus six months or so from now.

Peter van der Ham: 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 are too strong to come back. Of these two Lurrus could definitely be argued in favour of with regards to power level, and that it would lessen the meta-share of Oko out of Delver. The risk here is that it can empower and further homogenize Delver decks, 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, Gush.

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Andreas Reling: I‘d love to see Yawgmoth's Bargain getting unbanned. It’s a weaker Bolas's Citadel as it doesn’t let you cast spells without paying their mana cost while drawing stupid amounts of cards. It’s a card I‘m nostalgic about and there are better cards with similar effects today that are legal.

Max Gilmore: Yes! I think there are a bunch of cards that are safe to unban, many of which a group of friends tested in a fun tournament last year called "Legacy Unchained."

I think the following old cards are fine to unban: Hermit Druid, Mind's Desire, Mind TwistEarthcraft, Wheel of Fortune, Windfall, and Yawgmoth's Bargain. With the updated Companion rule, Lurrus of the Dream-Den is probably safe to unban, too. However, given how easy it is for the Zirda deck to make 3 additional mana, Zirda is probably safer to leave on the banlist.

In Response Cast: In our opinion a ban list should be as long as needed while as short as possible. For unbanning purposes there are two things to consider, first is the impact on the format or the power level itself and second is the availability or the price of the card. We think that there are only a few cards that don't cause problems in either of those cases. Our picks for unbanning therefore would be Lurrus of the Dream-Den, Mind Twist and Yawgmoth's Bargain.

  • Yawgmoth's Bargain is often a worse Ad Nauseam or a worse version of Griselbrand, we don't think it deserves its spot on the ban list in 2020.
  • Mind Twist by itself is a mediocre card in today's design space.If this card would get printed today, nobody would bat an eye, so there is no need to keep it banned. Also discard is in a rough spot at the moment with the game focusing on impacting the board.
  • Lurrus of the Dream-Den is unplayable as a Companion now and would be mostly a main deck card where it could empower a lot of cool niche decks. We don't think it could tie on it’s glorious days of the past but it could breathe new life into former archetypes.

Topic #6 - Is the overall metagame healthy right now?

Phil Gallagher: If you look at the Legacy metagame in a vacuum, you’d probably say it is healthy.  There are a number of competitive options that exist across multiple archetypes.  If you’ve been playing Legacy for a long time though, you might ask, “Where did all the old cards go?”  Legacy is currently dominated by the past year or so of printings: Oko, Dreadhorde Arcanist, Veil, Astrolabe, Karn, the Great CreatorPlague Engineer, Ice-Fang Coatl, Muxus, Allosaurus Shepherd, Uro, Force of Negation… you get the idea.  Legacy feels like “bigger Standard” to me now instead of a home for all the cool cards and strategies from the entire history of Magic.  I don't feel entitled for any one deck to be good. I do, however, feel like most of Legacy's rich card pool (i.e. the historically playable cards and strategies) should not feel completely invalidated by the most recent sets.

I think most of the current problems that Legacy has are above a meta game level and are more at a design level.  F.I.R.E. philosophy has changed Legacy forever.  Unless Wizards of the Coast goes nuclear with bans, most of those cards are here to stay and likely form the new core of Legacy.  I’m hopeful that ban list management and new printings can get the format to a place where more people are happy with it, but I do really worry that 2019/2020 design mistakes coupled with a global pandemic that keeps people from playing paper events leaves Legacy in a very bad spot moving forward.  So is the meta game healthy?  Sure, I suppose.  Is Legacy itself in a healthy place?  No, I really don’t think it is.  I think adjusting the metrics for banning cards is the best path forward for Legacy.  Banning some cards to cultivate a better gameplay experience sounds great to me.  This would allow banning of cards like Veil of Summer and Arcum's Astrolabe that perhaps aren’t quite there on power level, but are doing undesirable things to the actual experience of playing Magic.

Peter van der Ham: Looking at the current meta game in isolation, I think it’s a very healthy and diverse meta game. My main reasoning for this is that there are viable high tier strategies across the range of overarching archetypes, and I feel there is still enough room for brews and innovation.

That being said, I do think that some of the format’s historic contenders feel a bit too weak at the moment. If that is something to be fixed with bans, new card releases (like Skyclave Apparition), or if we just have to accept that a format evolves over time, I’m not sure. I personally don’t have a stake in any particular deck, and like just making my deck choices based on whatever state the format is in, but I also understand that not everyone has this flexibility. On that note, how about removing the Reserved List?

Andreas Reling: Yes, Legacy is healthy right now. You can succeed with many different strategies and I think no deck is so dominant that it threatens the format as a whole. I don’t like that Delver decks have decent late game due to Oko though, because I think it should be a strategy that loses most late game scenarios but the format has seen worse times.

Max Gilmore: While Legacy is balanced with regard to deck and archetype representation, the format feels significantly less fun to play than it did 18 months ago.  I don't actually care about the disproportionate representation of new cards vs old ones, but I do care about play patterns and diversity of gameplay decisions.

In Magic, when you choose whether or not to cast a card, you are evaluating the risk of your card being answered profitably with the reward of getting your intended effect. Classically, in Legacy, there was a cool give and take with regard to both players trying to find the right window to commit their most powerful cards. That balance, and the decision not to play something, is what made Legacy such a deep format that one could play for years on end.

The cards printed since War of the Spark have changed that. The risk/reward balance for playing out a threat has shifted so hard to the "reward" side that it is almost always right to jam. Jam the Dreadhorde Arcanist / Uro / Oko, Force of Will the opponent's answer, recoup the would-be card disadvantage, and then proceed to run away with the game. Similarly, the decision to hold cantrips vs to play them out also got reduced to "play the cantrip," as you are incentivized to find your game-dominating threats as fast as possible.

In Response Cast: Under the premise that there are a reduced number of playable or viable decks in the current legacy format, mainly through Oko, the overall metagame is in a healthy state at the moment.  There is an established Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock like meta game where the best decks rotate every week with only minor changes to the lists.

Although a meta like this is healthy at first, it suppresses any meta calls you could make with any non-UG, non combo decks. So we think a Okoless Meta would at least improve the diversity and give more fringe strategies a chance to spike events.

Until Next Time...

Alright, that wraps up our second Legacy Round Table! I want to thank everyone who participated this time. You all had some great responses and some interesting things to note on consensus for things such as Oko, especially given that time can change opinions easily. The last Round Table we did, most of the people didn't believe Oko should be banned, but as time has gone on and the card has continued to work its way into the metagame, nearly every creator here today believed the card should be banned. Very interesting to note indeed.

As always, we will continue to hold these roughly every 3 months or so and with new creators (if possible) to get further opinions on the state of the health of the Legacy format.

Legacy Challenge 9/19

Our first Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday Challenge. Let's dive right into the Top 32 Metagame breakdown!

RUG Delver and Snowko sat at the top of this event's Top 32 metagame percentage, but there was a lot of other really interesting decks in this event as well. However RUG Delver definitely converted well into the Top 8 of this event.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Delver 1st Rob85TX
Sneak and Show 2nd GodOfSlaughter
Omni-Tell 3rd Sakuragi21722749
RUG Delver 4th Hide1984
Cloudpost 5th MaximusDee
Snowko 6th Tw33ty
RUG Delver 7th Wakarock
Omni-Tell 8th Ayukawa

While there was a fair amount of RUG in this Top 8, there was also a lot of fast combo. Makes for a very interesting dynamic here. At the end of the event however, it was indeed RUG that won.

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Not super often we see a Stifle build lately, as most decks prefer to be fully on four copies of Dreadhorde Arcanist and no Stifle, so it's cool to see it show up and do pretty well.

In Second Place we have Sneak and Show.

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This is a pretty clean classic Sneak and Show variant, leaning on the Daze plan as a way to have further disruption for the opponent while trying to progress the game plan of either Show and Tell or Sneak Attack.

In Third place we have Omni-Tell.

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Pieces of the Puzzle is a pretty sweet card that sort of acts like copies of Drawn from Dreams. This certainly seems like a powerful list given that it isn't running many creature targets to gum up Pieces.

Since Fourth Place was also RUG Delver, let's move down to Fifth with a Cloudpost deck featuring new card Forsaken Monument.

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Infinite mana abounds! As I noted before, Forsaken Monument not only makes all your sol lands much better, but it also goes flat out infinite with Basalt Monolith (Tap Monolith for 4, untap Monolith for 3, net 1 mana) so I figured it was only a matter of time before someone tried it. This gives this deck a big endgame of simply going infinite onto a Walking Ballista and likely being able to cast every spell in the deck. Sphere of Resistance is also incredibly cool.

In Sixth Place we have Snowko.

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The most amusing thing about this list is the working in of Shark Typhoon into it. Seems like a cool idea to me!

Outside of the Top 8 there was some really interesting lists, with new cards from Zendikar Rising filtering in here or there, including the usage of the mythic Modal DFC cards in Oops! All Spells!

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The primary game plan of this deck is to cast one of the black creatures in the deck (Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer) and mill your entire deck, triggering all of the Narcomoeba in the deck and then using Dread Return to get back Thassa's Oracle. The mythic Modal DFCs in this deck shore up a big weakness by making access to mana more consistent as well as not being actual Lands in the deck for the purposes of Spy and Informer.

Another Zendikar Rising card that showed up here was Skyclave Apparition, appearing in Esper Vial.

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Skyclave Apparition definitely seems to be the real deal, and it seems like a truly powerful card for Aether Vial based strategies.

Also showing up was Cleansing Wildfire in U/R Delver.

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Between Wasteland and Cleansing Wildfire, this deck just does not want you to have lands. Pretty solid.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in the event. I'm updating my standards just a bit to account for Zendikar Rising. We're still only looking at cards with 8 copies or more, but our special exceptions are made specifically for Companions and Modal DFC cards (due to the unique nature of these cards).

Card Name Number of Copies
Oko, Thief of Crowns 38
Force of Negation 28
Ice-Fang Coatl 27
Veil of Summer 27
Dreadhorde Arcanist 25
Arcum's Astrolabe 24
Prismatic Vista 19
Once Upon a Time 18
Plague Engineer 18
Karn, the Great Creator 15
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 15
Force of Vigor 13
Klothys, God of Destiny 9
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 8
Agadeem's Awakening 4
Turntimber Symbiosis 2
Valakut Awakening 2
Sea Gate Restoration 1

Lot of the same 2019-2020 stuff we're used to, but also a bit of the new cards in the Modal DFC cards appeared as well in this event. Oko definitely dominated largely due to all the RUG Delver, but it was a definite win for the card overall.

Legacy Challenge 9/20

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the regular Sunday Challenge, so let's dive right in to its Top 32.

RUG Delver continues its dominance at the top of the metagame as its popularity seems to know no bounds. Not to mention that, it just seems like the best thing in the format to be doing right now, as a lot of its bad matchups have been assisted by the presence of things like Oko and the like.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Delver 1st Bryant_Cook
Maverick 2nd Achilles27
BUG Shadow 3rd TrueHero
Mono Red Prison 4th Basuta
Maverick 5th ParadiseLost
Goblins 6th Grumsh
RUG Delver 7th BeeNew
Depths Combo 8th Oskiyaa

Well, looking at this event, it's certainly nice to know that Bryant Cook took it down yet again with his trusty deck, The EPIC St-Wait... Wait a minute... he didn't play The EPIC Storm, he played RUG Delver!

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Bryant's list is super clean and strong. I'm sure that it's likely that he managed a lot of matchups on the sheer basis that he has played The EPIC Storm so much in these events that many players likely thought he was on that deck and mulligan'ed appropriately. As far as I am aware, there are no VODs of this one as Bryant didn't record it, but it had to be one amusing run. Also, Bryant himself re-nicknamed the deck as The EPIC Delver, so that seems pretty fitting.

In Second Place we have Achilles27 on Maverick.

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Achilles27 has been really strong on Maverick for quite a while, and their playtime into the deck really shows. It's awesome to see them do well, and it's even more cool to see cards like Kaya, Orzhov Usurper in the deck. Also, there's a Kaya, Ghost Assassin which is super sweet.

In Third Place we have BUG Death's Shadow.

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Whoah, this is like Delver without Delver but with Shadows and Stifle and Hooting Mandrills. Oh, and Oko. Wild list, very cool stuff.

In Fourth Place we have Mono Red Prison.

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Blood Moon and Karn, the Great Creator? Yeah, they're still good cards in 2020. Also, Anje's Ravager in the sideboard here for some card draw.

Since Fifth Place was also Maverick, let's move down to Sixth Place with Goblins.

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A new card that wasn't quite on my list from Zendikar Rising was Fissure Wizard, which is fittingly a Goblin Wizard. This card performs Red's variation of looting (known I believe as rummaging) by discarding first and then drawing, which seems pretty great to have access to on a two drop to Vial in. Also, it combo's with Reanimate by pitching a Muxus, Goblin Grandee and then using Reanimate to get it back. Super sick tech.

Since Seventh Place was also RUG Delver, let's round out the Top 8 with Depths Combo.

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Solid list here, utilizing Dark Confidant and Once Upon a Time as consistency card advantage engines.

Outside of the Top 8, this event showcased some more Zendikar Rising cards, such as Lands with Valakut Exploration!

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The hubbub on Valakut Exploration is that the card is exceptionally bonkers in Lands builds, giving the deck an engine and a win condition all in one card. What I also like about this is that it does really well in multiples (by exiling multiple cards), but also that it is really cool that even if your opponent blows up your Valakut Exploration before the end step trigger, you can still play cards exiled with it as long as they remain exiled as it is a property ruling of the card itself.

There was also a sweet UB variant of Karn/Urza.

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Seeing Dimir Signet makes me sad that there's no Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas here, but it's still just a very powerful list.

Finally kingregal decided to show off the power of Sea Gate Stormcaller.

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Sea Gate Stormcaller is a true bomb in a deck full of impactful 1-2 CMC spells such as Village Rites, Hymn to Tourach, and of course Brainstorm. Seems pretty insane overall.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Dreadhorde Arcanist 27
Oko, Thief of Crowns 27
Force of Negation 26
Plague Engineer 24
Force of Vigor 20
Once Upon a Time 19
Arcum's Astrolabe 16
Ice-Fang Coatl 14
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 14
Karn, the Great Creator 12
Prismatic Vista 12
Veil of Summer 12
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 9
Klothys, God of Destiny 9
Agadeem's Awakening 8
Turntimber Symbiosis 6
Sea Gate Restoration 1
Yorion, Sky Nomad 1

Yet more of the same old same old, with some more of the Modal DFC lands appearing in addition to an appearance by Yorion, as there was a Yorion Stryfo Pile list piloted by Stryfo in the event. It is interesting to see how the numbers vary between the different time slots of Challenges however.

PAX Online Legacy Championships 9/20

This weekend was also the Championship event for the PAX Online events, held by Pastimes Events. This was an invite-only event by either going 3-1 or 4-0 in a preliminary event the week before. Let's take a look at the Top 32 of this event.

Despite looking like this event was lit up like a Christmas Wonderland with all of the Snowko floating about, the deck actually didn't really perform all that super well as classic traditional BUGw variants didn't really convert into the Top 8, but did convert well into the Top 16. In addition, RUG Delver dived down a lot, but still had a number of decks. Despite all of this, this event was filled with some interesting stuff, so let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Hogaak 1st Nammersquats
Omni-Tell 2nd MurkyBlack11
Worldgorger Combo 3rd Fire10798
Depths Combo 4th MMapson125
RUG Snowko 5th TwinlessTwin
Hogaak 6th SimpleLiquid
Death and Taxes 7th xJCloud
Yorion Stryfo Pile 8th TebbeBear

As we can see, traditional Snowko didn't pierce through to this Top 8, but a lot of incredibly interesting stuff did. At the end of it all however, it was Hogaak that took it all down.

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BUG Gaak lists are generally super clean and really explosive and this list is definitely all of that. These lists have been pretty stock for BUG variants for a while now.

In Second Place we have Omni-Tell.

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This is a powerful and proactive deck, with some really impactful cards. It's honestly really cool to see a card like Shared Summons used in a deck like this where it is used as a free tutor piece for its combo creatures.

In Third Place we have good friend Kyle from the Worldgorger Gang on his best deck ever, Worldgorger Combo.

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Dragon is such a great and fun deck, and one of the coolest and interesting combos in the format really. I really dig the copy of Polukranos, Unchained in the sideboard here.

In Fourth Place we have another friend of the column in Michael Mapson on Depths Combo.

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This is a solid list, and again we see cards like Steely Resolve in the sideboard, which are great at protecting your Marit Lage from all sorts of things from Oko to Swords to Plowshares.

In Fifth Place we have RUG Snowko.

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This is essentially Poke Pile as popularized by Jeff White (pokemoki), which is sort of a weird RUG Snow list that plays typical Delver threats like Arcanist and Stifle. It's a super cool list and has been waxing and waning in popularity, but it is pretty neat.

Since Sixth Place also had Hogaak, let's move down to Seventh Place with yet another good friend in xJCloud and his pet deck, Death and Taxes, featuring new card Skyclave Apparition.

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Again, Apparition seems to be a super solid card. I can definitely see how powerful it is, and it deals with so many threats permanently. Great run indeed for xJCloud, who has spent so long working and playing D&T variants.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Yorion Stryfo Pile.

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I always love looking at Yorion Stryfo Pile lists, because I love seeing all the cool cards it plays, and I always look for any new cards from new sets because they often tend to show up there. This doesn't have any Zendikar Rising cards, but it is exceptionally strong.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Arcum's Astrolabe 56
Oko, Thief of Crowns 53
Ice-Fang Coatl 52
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 41
Force of Negation 39
Plague Engineer 34
Veil of Summer 34
Prismatic Vista 27
Dreadhorde Arcanist 21
Force of Vigor 12
Once Upon a Time 9
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 8
Yorion, Sky Nomad 3

Holy Astrolabe, Batman! There was a lot of Snow in this event, so it's no surprise to see Astrolabe numbers so high. I wouldn't put a huge amount into this event, but it is interesting to keep in mind. It's certainly something to keep an eye on going forward.

Ban Watch

Since we're now on a new set release cycle, it makes for a good time to start the Ban Watch chart over and continue tracking the data on cards that are contentious with players at the moment. In addition, I've also added two new cards to the list in Dreadhorde Arcanist and Plague Engineer. These are both cards that players have come around on considering as a possible target, so let's track some numbers.

For the purposes of the chart, there are currently three events listed between this past weekend's Challenge events as well as the PAX event. I have marked the PAX event with a different date (9/21) so the chart will display properly.

We're starting off in interesting territory and given our discussion of the day, Oko in general is definitely something of a concern for the format at the moment. The card definitely appears to be everywhere, and I can agree with many of the commentators today that something does need to be done about the card. Hopefully we can reset this chart again soon and Oko will see a ban. Maybe not, but it definitely will be interesting to see what will happen going forward, especially as the Modal DFC cards are beginning to make a splash in Zendikar Rising.

Around the Web

  • Achilles27 posted a great article on their Second Place run in the Sunday Legacy Challenge. You can check that out here.
  • 90sMTG continues the Zendikar Rising hits by showing off the power of Valakut Exploration. You can check that out here.
  • Our good buddy xJCloud made Top 8 of the PAX Legacy Champs and posted video of his run. Check that out here.
  • NEVER RETREAT, NEVER SURRENDER!

The Spice Corner

Because new cards from Zendikar Rising are the hot thing to talk about, our good buddy Jax on Oops! featuring the new mythic Modal DFC lands.

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Ahh the simple pleasures in life, like playing Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.

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Good friend of ours SamuraiFunn 5-0'ed with a sweet BUG Nic Fit variant. Polukranos, Unchained!

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Felidar Retreat is a card I missed in my initial set review, but I think the card is pretty cool, and so does our good friend Solnox.

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And finally, this is an insanely wild Omni-Tell list.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I took a break from the Ninjas to play around with Karn and Narset!

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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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