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This Week in Legacy: The Legacy Round Table - Roll Initiative Edition

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 another round table of amazing Legacy players/content creators to talk about the current state of the Legacy format. In addition to that we've got some spoilers for Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander decks and at least one or two cards to talk about from that, and also an update on some paper events that have been going on (and one that I got to take part in as well!). Oh right, there's also a Spice Corner (for those that have been following along, we're not in the Void at the End of Time just yet!)

Without further ado, let's dive right in.

The Legacy Round Table - Roll Initiative Edition

Every so often we get together a Round Table of players/creators in the Legacy Community to talk about the format and how they feel about things and about something related to current events. The last time we did this was in Strixhaven, and in that time, the very landscape of Legacy has changed quite a bit because of Modern Horizons 2. So I figured this was a great time to get together the Table once more, and have a little fun... rolling for initative.

But first, let's find out who our intrepid heroes are, shall we?

Name Social Media Links
Sam Dams (Fenruscloud)
Matthew Vook
Phil Blechman (ForceOfPhil)
Rich Cali
Curran Delahanty (Testacular)
Newton Hang
Alex McKinley (Vivarus)
Lee Hung Nguyen (1mrlee)

Now that we've got our party together, let's see what adventures they can get into as we dive into Legacy!

Question #1 - How do you feel about Legacy at the moment? Is the format healthy? Are you having fun?

Sam Dams: I really love Legacy right now but that’s because I do enjoy the typical brewing and tweaking that naturally comes with the printing of a high-impact set such as Modern Horizons 2 (MH2). The impact of MH2 on the metagame is pretty significant and it took me quite a long time to figure out a new build which could make my pet deck Infect competitive again. In general I think Legacy is healthy at the moment. I was a bit afraid in the beginning when we saw UR Delver heavily dominating the challenges but the response came quickly with Bant Control and Urza’s Saga based decks preying upon Delver strategies. With so many changes in the meta, it’s really satisfying to find a list for a lower tier deck such as mine which can compete with the top contenders of the format. To summarize: I’m having a blast! Long live Legacy! 

Matt Vook: I like Legacy at the moment and I think the format is in a better spot than before MH2. I think there is a lot of variety in terms of what is viable, but the meta is still narrow enough that you can configure your deck for the expected meta and be rewarded if your read is accurate. I think there is a good mix of each archetype in the meta, but it is somewhat concerning that within each archetype there has been increased homogenization. It is pretty clear which variant is the best deck within each archetype. Currently Bant Control/Miracles is the best fair blue midrange deck and pretty easily outclasses Jeskai, Grixis, and BUG control decks with the printing of Prismatic Ending. Jeskai Ragavan Saga operates in a weird space but is competing with Bant in the midrange/control space while also being more proactive and disrupting of mana. UR Delver is also clearly the best Delver deck, and Grixis or Jeskai variants are only splashing a few cards rather than being noticeably different from the base UR list. Similarly, D&T is clearly the best vial deck with other vial decks barely represented. Hogaak is the best graveyard deck with decks like Reanimator, Dredge, and Oop All Spells! almost completely absent. I would also like to see more variety within each archetype of blue control, tempo, Aether Vial decks, graveyard decks, etc. The format has sped up a bit, but I think the play patterns are still mostly the same as before. Some of the new cards do a lot for their mana cost and can lead to swingy games.

Rich Cali: I think a fair amount of the concerns that existed pre-MH2 have begun to dissipate, which helps create a healthy flux in the metagame. We are still in the early stages of this format, so it is still not clear what the end-picture will look like, but to me the outlook is pretty positive. There are decks that can effectively manage Delver, such as Bant Control, Lands, and Death and Taxes, and those decks have weaknesses that are exploited by other archetypes, like Doomsday. As such, I have enjoyed this Legacy format a fair amount. Things have accelerated, which has taken some adjustment, but I do not think that’s a bad thing. The games are fun and there’s a lot of tension that the new cards create (such as whether Ragavan will hit anything or whether you will surveil the one card type you need for Dragon’s Rage Channeler) which is one of my favorite parts of Magic. It feels like deckbuilding decisions really matter again and, with a rather defined metagame, you can pinpoint choices that will have an impact more precisely.

Phil Blechman: The format has not fully settled from getting upended by the additions of MH2, but it seems healthy from a deck diversity standpoint — meaning combo, aggro, and control are all viable in some capacity. However, it doesn’t seem to have weathered its temperature from the power creep of individual cards just yet. MH2 altered the pillars and speed of the format. Delver remains the apparent best deck as it has been most of the last decade and got significant boosts over the past year. Urza's Saga became a pillar of the format overnight finding homes in aggro decks (Affinity, Delver), control decks (Lands, Standstill), and combo decks (Painter, Urza Echo, etc). There is a lot of room left to refine decks post MH2. I believe the format will settle in a healthy place, but one that is entirely different from pre-MH2 — it will be a faster, swingier format that will reward hammers much more than finesse.

Curran Delahanty: At the moment, it feels like Legacy is still being explored with the arrival of MH2. We're in the sweet spot right now. The first couple weeks, we saw the obvious cards slot into existing archetypes. And now, we’re in the phase where people seem to really be pushing new builds that push the new cards power level to their limits. It’s the best time for some really crazy and new ideas to pull down unexpected results. The format is healthy right now and I hope that it remains diverse for the future. Personally, I am having tons of fun playing Elves in this format and tweaking the list week by week to see if I can beat the fresh metagame. It’s really hard for me not to enjoy legacy. The only time I think I didn’t enjoy legacy was when Wrenn and Six was legal and we had no Deathrite Shaman or Allosaurus Shepherd to help lead the team to victory. 

Newton Hang: I’ve been really enjoying legacy a lot more lately due to the number of viable decks. In particular, it felt as if blue-based control wasn’t really represented in the meta-game prior to MH2 release. Due to the printing of Prismatic Ending and Endurance, Bant control has now surfaced as a strong fair-blue alternative to UR delver. The two additional flexible answers complement the existing shell of Swords to Plowshares and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath for a robust gameplan. Ideally, BUG control would serve as a second option for control mages. For now though, Legacy appears to be healthy as pilots are still exploring the best shells for MH2’s best cards: Urza’s Saga, Prismatic Ending, and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer.

Alex McKinley: This current iteration of Legacy feels like one of the best from recent years. It may just be due to the format being in flux due to so many new cards entering the format, but I'm hopeful. I think there are still structural problems in the format mostly due to Daze and the Delver shell being broken at any moment with any printing that feels a lot like a Sword of Damocles,  threatening to break the format at any point. Thankfully, the threats introduced into Delver do not seem to have broken it too badly this time.

Lee Hung Nguyen: I really enjoy Legacy at the moment. It is at a better spot then it was before Modern Horizons 2 (MH2). Lot’s of people have mentioned, including myself that MH2 was one of the best sets ever printed for eternal formats. It had the right power level of cards, enough build arounds, and a lot of fun ofs. It also added a breath of fresh air into archetypes that didn’t really have a strong footing until now (*cough* looking at you Urza's Saga). It’s very obvious that UR Delver is still the best deck, and I have my own opinions on that deck, but is it healthy? It’s healthier than before. Is it fun? Heck yes. Also Prismatic Ending adding such a massive boon to midrange decks. I’m also excited to see how Portable Hole plays out in Legacy. I know it’s made an impact to Vintage, but in time it will get tested around I guess. And the Monke? Yeah the Monke is strong, and yes it gets added into Delver, but I think we need more "screw you" cards to the tempo archetype.

Question #2 - Do you feel there are any cards in the format that need to be banned? Explain why.

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Sam Dams: This discussion seems to be coming up a lot lately. In general, I’m not a big fan of banning cards too quickly. While I was very afraid of the potential power level of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer when MH2 was just released, I no longer feel that the card is on the same power level as Dreadhorde Arcanist was for instance. Don’t get me wrong, the card’s definitely strong, but not being able to control which card you’re going to get from your opponent's deck makes it so sometimes you don’t get any real value apart from the treasure token. If you’re unlucky you might even end up helping your opponent instead. For example, I’ve used a Brainstorm to get rid of a land by putting it on top of my library when Ragavan attacks. As I said before, I feel as though the meta is adapting to deal with Delver decks so currently I’d rather not see any bans. We need to give this awesome community time to adapt.

Matt Vook: Ideally the banlist should be as small as possible to allow players the greatest ability to experiment in the format. The Delver Shell has been dominant in Legacy for longer and to a greater extent than any other archetype. It is the deck that most greatly sets the bar for what other decks can compete in the format. The opening week of the format post MH2 UR Delver had a really great showing with insane meta percentage and win rate. The deck fell off a bit, but has made a resurgence in recent events. The Jeskai Ragavan Saga deck also utilizes aspects of the Delver Shell with more controlling elements. It has similarly had major success recently. While these decks have put up a lot of good results, I don’t think we have enough data to definitively ban anything at this time. This is also complicated by the fact that Ragavan is over 400 tix for a play set and Urza’s Saga is roughly 160 tix. Rental services like ManaTraders have also not had them in steady supply to meet the demand across multiple formats. I think that these decks are clearly among the best decks in the format, and in several months something will probably eventually be banned. Cards like Ragavan and Urza’s Saga just do so much for their low mana investment and deck building requirements. Cards like Dragon's Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent also gave these decks access to additional evasive threats. Overall, MH2 was a massive power boost to the most consistent deck in the format. Utilizing the existing Delver Shell and somewhat more recent printings of cards like Force of Negation, Unholy Heat, and Prismatic Ending, and the many other sideboard cards that already exist, I think this shell can easily adapt to any meta change aimed at beating it. Decks like UR Delver and Jeskai Ragavan Saga are unmatched in consistency, and the other more powerful decks are much less consistent. I don’t think it is possible that the meta can adapt to these decks, and in 6-12 months I think something will justifiably be banned. I personally would support a Daze ban but I could also see either Ragavan or Urza's Saga also being targeted.

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Rich Cali: Discussions surrounding bans are generally terrible. Especially in the era of social media, where nuance is extremely difficult to convey, it is annoying to see such galvanized rhetoric which makes it challenging to parse out individuals’ goals. Overall, this tends to make the conversation really divisive and emotionally charged, which is not conducive to healthy discussion in my opinion. However, seeing as card design and development has been pushed to such a degree over the past few years, the conversations might be necessary in order to ensure a healthy and fun format.

Right before Modern Horizons 2 came out, I wrote about my stance on Channel Fireball, which was that Delver will inevitably get better over time since the shell is designed to utilize any cheap and potent threat or card advantage engine that gets printed. My core stance was that Delver needed a de-buff and the most effective way of approaching that was to go after the shell. This seemed like it was going to be exacerbated by some of the printings in MH2, since Delver would be gaining a substantial amount of power from the set. However, as someone who plays a lot of Delver, it is very clear that the metagame has been able to adapt a lot more effectively with some of the new printings. While some of these cards are clearly near the upper limit of power (such as Urza's Saga), this was really my desired outcome. It is a lot more desirable for archetypes to adapt and metagames to adjust than it is to ban cards, especially since that is the pattern that has occurred across most of Legacy’s history, which has helped keep any one archetype from being the only deck, so-to-speak. From both my personal experience, as well as my observations of the format through results and data, it seems like this has successfully occurred, which is awesome.

While Legacy has changed a lot recently, with powerful cards accelerating the pace of play and adjusting the play patterns, that kind of change is not bad in a vacuum. It might appear as such to people that are a bit more change-averse, which is natural since in many ways Legacy is (read: was) a place for nostalgia. However, new cards and play patterns are overall good for the format, since it generates churn and creates more points of learning. Cards like Ragavan and Urza's Saga are certainly more powerful than most of what is happening in Legacy which, again, for some is seen as a bad thing, since Legacy utilizes almost 3 decades worth of cards. However, if the play patterns aren’t inherently boring or un-fun, this is not a bad thing. With cards like Oko, it became clear very quickly that the games would not be enjoyable. With cards like Arcanist, it was more of a slow burn, and it took people quite a bit longer to realize that making the entire game revolve around a turn 2 play. 

While Ragavan appeared as if it was going to apply the “Arcanist” principle to turn 1 instead, I don’t think that is actually true. Ragavan is substantially more counterable than Arcanist, seeing blockers are actually effective, Karakas is a clean counter, and if it does hit you, it doesn’t actually end the game on the spot. That isn’t to say that Ragavan should be getting a pass forever, but I think the metagame around it has settled to some extent. On another topic, while Urza's Saga has clearly had a major impact on the format, it has done so in an archetype-agnostic way. It is included in many different decks which could be seen as a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. It does buff archetypes that needed a little help, but it also helps the fair blue decks that already had a lot of help over the past few months (read: years). However, as I said in my CFB article, blue decks will always be the best thing to do in Legacy, so that isn’t particularly bothersome to me. 

I don’t think either the metagame adjustment nor the birth of new Delver-hating archetypes should necessarily mean that people should ignore the conversation of banning something from the Delver shell, but for me, I am going to shelve it for the time being. 

Phil Blechman: The power creep from MH2 has applied a significant additional pressure on the play/draw. As the power of cheaper threats increases, so does the advantage of being on the play. Cards that we have known for years and years as part of the legacy ecosystem have evolved as the cards around them have and I think when considering bans, we need to view cards more through a lens of their power in a game when they are on the play.

Aside from having to grow accustomed to arbitrary power increases from MH2 cards, daze is the card that has had the most heat on it. Personally, I don’t think daze is at a power level too high for legacy. However, I do think the format is at a place where it compounds the variance of the die roll too steeply. For example, with Delver getting the additions of both Ragavan and Dragon's Rage Channeler, the deck’s ability to present a turn one threat increased; as did the need to interact with it sooner. The “luxury” of playing around Daze by taking a turn off isn’t as affordable as it was before because the clock is now too fast. The format’s speed increased, compelling players to act sooner, and therefore starkly increased daze’s power. It means far more games are decided without any agency allotted to the player on the draw — either play into daze and lose due to falling too far behind or play around it and fall too far behind.

Essentially, Daze is a card that has systemic issues. Every aggressive one drop threat forever has to be viewed through the lens of “how powerful is this when leveraged by daze on the play?” It is similar to when WoTC banned Aetherworks Marvel in standard due to having to view every card that cost 7 or more through the lens of “how devastating is this if cast on turn four at instant speed?” Any card that creates a systemic problem in a format should be on the chopping block and I think the health of the Legacy going forward is better with those kinds of cards gone. 

Secondly, cards that asymmetrically remove a player’s ability to interact should be banned. I’m looking specifically at Allosaurus Shepherd and Teferi, Time Raveler. Although these cards aren’t ubiquitous in the format, they do things that I personally find inherently unfun — remove the ability to meaningfully interact. In my opinion, both cards invalidate the stack in a way that leads to extremely uninteresting play patterns. If they were only City of Solitude variants, that would be manageable. However, both are asymmetrical, one is a win condition, and the other is a draw engine. Asymmetrical designs like this are glaring mistakes in design that I think WoTC should clean their hands of and rid from the format.

Thirdly, a card like Urza's Saga would be excellent to power up artifact based strategies. However, Urza's Saga as printed is very obviously a mistake and should certainly get the axe in the future. Two constructs (one at instant speed) and a tutor that are all uncounterable? Insulated against discard spells? It’s too much for something that only costs a land drop.

Curran Delahanty: At this point, nothing is glaringly powerful enough to warrant a ban. There are definitely unfun cards that seem powerful in certain situations but these cards are something that can be played through or beaten. It looks like some at this table are calling to chop off the head of Allosaurus Shepherd so I’m gonna just use this space to protect the little homie. I fully understand where you are all coming from. The approach WotC took to designing this creature was tactless to say the least and creating a creature that shuts down a decent portion of interaction in the format isn’t the direction that they should have gone. However, if this card were to be banned, traditional Elves would very much struggle to stay anywhere near competitive in the format. I think that certain pilots would still do well once in a while but it wouldn’t be nearly the competitor it is right now. I will say I’ve been impressed with Reclaimer as a one drop lately but Im not sure if it would be enough to survive the current meta game without the help of Shepherd.

Newton Hang: As of right now, I believe it’s unreasonable to ban anything as players are still figuring out what the best decks post-MH2 are. Unlike the initial weeks following the release of companions and Underworld Breach, there isn’t any deck that is heads and shoulders better than other alternatives. The power level of Urza’s Saga is certainly concerning but this is also Legacy we’re talking about. If anything, Ragavan has a Dreadhorde Arcanist feel to it in blue mirrors. However unlike DHA, the card is somewhat underwhelming against a fair portion of decks. For this reason, I don’t believe it warrants banning at this time.

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Alex McKinley: I would just ban Daze at this point. Since Delver's printing, that shell has been responsible for about half of the cards banned in the format. Brainstorm, Force of Will, and Wasteland are just too untouchable in terms of continuing to play the format in a recognizable way. Daze is primarily in the Delver shell and in some combo decks and thus has the least splash damage. I do not believe that banning Delver of Secrets itself is not impactful enough to the shell at this point and how Wizards is printing cards. There is a complaint that Wizards should stop printing cards like Ragavan, Dreadhorde Arcanist, and Wrenn and Six, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Lee Hung Nguyen: Right when MH2 came out, I was honestly on the bandwagon that Daze needed to be banned. Delver having 10 free counter spells in their maindeck was kind of ridiculous. I still stand by this point, since free spells are something that just makes the strong decks even stronger. I mean look at Dreadhorde Arcanist. It’s literal text said: cast spells and get more free spells. And bam it got banned because it was too much value. Ragavan is on the watching block for now, since it’s a “don’t deal with me? Ill run away with the game” sorta thing. (kinda ironic that I say that and it’s a Monke). 

Question #3 - How do you feel about the impact that Modern Horizons 2 has had on Legacy overall?

Sam Dams: Oh, the impact is quite frankly huge! Legacy is dead, long live Legacy! What I mean by that is I think we’ll be speaking about a Legacy format pre-MH2 and post-MH2 pretty soon. Dragon's Rage Channeler, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Murktide Regent gave Delver decks three premium new threats but at the same time, control decks got some sweet cards of their own such as Endurance and Prismatic Ending. Endurance is the real winner here if you ask me. The card’s just good in any deck that plays green and against so many strategies too, from Delver to graveyard based decks! I’ve even adapted the sideboard in Infect so I could play it reliably. When both control decks and aggro based decks like mine want to play the same card, you know it’s powerful.

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Matt Vook: This question is really hard to answer without going on a card by card basis. In terms of the most played cards, I think that Endurance and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth are net positives for the format. Endurance is a good main deck countermeasure to graveyard and Thassa's Oracle decks. I like giving fair decks additional access to beating the more unfair decks, or forcing them to adapt to new hate. We have already seen Doomsday do this, creating new matchup dynamics. I think Yavimaya is also perfectly fine power level for the format. It helps a few archetypes like GW Depths but clearly isn’t oppressive. There are also other cards like Grist, Thought Monitor, and Nettlecyst which are all new and interesting additions to other non-oppressive decks. 

Conversely, I think there are several cards that do too much and are overpowered. When you compare Urza's Saga to similar effects like Mutavault, Urza's Factory, or Inventors' Fair, the difference in power level is just laughable. The card can make two very large construct tokens and then tutors for a silver bullet. Currently most lists have Pithing Needle and Soul-Guide Lantern which can hose certain decks/archetypes, or it can find Retrofitter Foundry to pump the constructs and make additional threats. Originally the card was reasonable in the context of Affinity shells because there is incredibly strong hate that exists, and those decks didn’t have countermeasures to hate. I think it is incredibly problematic and potentially ban worthy in the Jeskai Ragavan Saga shell and potentially in the new UR Painter lists that are becoming more popular. Similarly, I think Ragavan does too much for a single red mana, and can lead to one sided and unfun games. Cards like Dragon's Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent also gave significant power boosts and closing speed to decks that were already the best in the format. While these cards are all interesting designs, I think giving a boost to decks that didn’t need it ultimately homogenizes the format and is a net negative.

The effect of Prismatic Ending is hard to evaluate. It gives decks access to great all purpose removal, but ultimately it is the best in the blue shell like these other powerful cards. Swords to Plowshares is the best creature removal spell in Legacy, and in the past there was tension in incorporating answers to non-creature threats into control decks. Cards like Abrupt Decay or Kolaghan's Command required a shift in deck construction and often required blue decks to play worse spot removal like Fatal Push or Lightning Bolt. Post MH2 white has access to the best creature and non-creature removal which greatly homogenizes controlling blue decks leaving basically no reason to play decks like Grixis or BUG control. While the card may lead to better game play by giving players better ability to interact with the opponent’s cards, on the metagame level I think the homogenization it promotes is bad for the format.

Rich Cali: As I mentioned earlier, I think the addition of MH2 has resulted in a healthier metagame, which is good. This doesn’t really have any meaning for what it will look like in the future, and perhaps the overall increase in power will have some negative side effects a few months down the line, but I'm happy with how things have developed so far. Many archetypes have gotten more tools, such as Prismatic Ending, Endurance, and Solitude, to name a few. In addition, new archetypes have been taking shape and proving to be a real force in the metagame, Madness being key among them. 

When Modern Horizons came out (as well as many of the sets that followed, such as Throne of Eldraine and Ikoria), I was pretty unhappy with the blatant push to print powerful cards that will have a major impact on the format. I wanted to play the format as I have been for years and felt like these changes hindered my experience. In reflection, that was primarily because it was a relatively novel concept and, like many other Legacy players, I was averse to that type of change. By now, though, I'm mostly used to it and actually rather like when sets contain powerful cards that have a substantial impact. While it might be a bit ham-fisted with sets like MH2, it goes a long way towards preventing stagnation and rejuvenates the format a fair amount. As long as the people who have the power to make ban decisions are willing to drop the hammer when it is necessary, I hope Wizards continues to take risks and print exciting cards that push the boundaries.

Phil Blechman: Overall, its impact is positive. However, WoTC seriously needs to move away from cards that are inherently powerful by themselves. Pushing the power level of synergistic cards like Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is good because intentional synergy is difficult to accomplish in legacy. Pushing the power level cards that ask essentially nothing from the pilot in deck building should slow down.

Curran Delahanty: MH2’s impact on Legacy is more or less what we want to see out of these kinds of sets. It introduces new, powerful cards that usually slot into existing strategies and cards that can create newer archetypes or help bolster archetypes that haven’t been prevalent for some time. We saw Ragavan, Dragon's Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent absolutely take over the ranks in the UR Delver deck, we saw Endurance slide right into Bant Control, Maverick and other midrange/control decks playing green and we saw Prismatic Ending slot into a lot of white decks as an amazing removal spell. Blazing Rootwalla went on to help contribute to a new Madness deck and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth really tied the room together for the new GW Depths deck. Thought Monitor, Esper Sentinel and Urza's Saga went into different UW Affinity decks. Saga also made it into newer Dreadnought builds featuring Dress Down. Haven't had to worry about one mana 12/12’s in a long time. For the most part, this set released a lot of playables without pushing them over the top. Hopefully, they can continue to stay balanced on these kinds of sets going forward without having to bring up the discussion of any kind of bans.

Newton Hang: Besides what I’ve mentioned above, I’ve also enjoyed seeing the impact of Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth in Dark Depths-based strategies. In addition, the Jund Madness deck is pretty cool to see in action and isn’t as soft to graveyard hate as its Dredge/Hogaak counterparts.

Alex McKinley: Modern Horizons 2 has felt great to the format. Several decks have been empowered in what feels like just the right ways. Yavimaya, Galvanic Relay, and Urza's Saga are some of my favorites for how they've influenced the format. It feels much healthier than how Modern Horizons hit the format, but that could be due to a few reasons. Both sets could be equally impactful, but after a few years of impactful printings, the Legacy community is more used to having sets dramatically influence the format. When MH1 was printed, there had been a drought of a few years of strong playables and combined with the London Mulligan and War of the Spark, most of us were not ready for how much the format was going to change.

Lee Hung Nguyen: Like mentioned earlier, Modern Horizons 2 was a breath of fresh air and I appreciate the great R&D work that went into the set from REAL players and great minds. MH2 was one of my favourite sets of all time. Not only because they printed some beloved Elementals for me, but because it has a good sense of power and uniqueness that makes building decks fun again.

Question #4 - Are there any cards that you feel could be unbanned in Legacy right now? Explain why.

Sam Dams: A very interesting question indeed! I think most of the card’s on the banned and restricted list are there for a good reason but what I think could be interesting is seeing the companions Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Zirda, the Dawnwaker getting unbanned. They got the axe when you could still cast them from the sideboard immediately, which was clearly busted. However, with the new rules where you have to pay three generic mana to put them into your hand first I’m not sure if they would still be as broken as they used to be. I wouldn’t be opposed to them getting unbanned to see what happens, but they could end up being broken again. Hard to tell really, but we don’t nearly see enough foxes and cats in Legacy so let’s just unban!

Matt Vook: I think unbanning cards is fine as long as they won’t be oppressive in the format. I think that Mind Twist, Earthcraft, and Yawgmoth's Bargain could be unbanned and wouldn’t even see much play. Mind Twist is mostly worse than Hymn to Tourach which hasn’t seen much play for a while. Earthcraft and Squirrel Nest doesn’t even seem competitively viable with the existence of Plague Engineer and Force of Vigor, as well as the fact that the combo isn’t that powerful to begin with relative to the high power level of the rest of the format. There are also several cards that are nearly strictly better than Yawgmoth's Bargain, so I don’t think it would even see play if unbanned. 

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With the new companion rule I think Lurrus could be unbanned. There has been a large shift away from black fair decks with the printing of Prismatic Ending and the presence of Uro. I think Lurrus would open up more design space while not being oppressive. The presence of new cheap creatures for the Delver Shell might make Lurrus appear threatening, but I think Jeskai or Grixis Lurrus Delver would not clearly be the best version when Murktide Regent and Plague Engineer are other incentives to not play Lurrus. Endurance is also a great tool available against Lurrus, and the mana base required to play Lurrus in blue decks can be exploited when decks like Mono Red Prison and Lands are major players in the format. Dreadhorde Arcanist was another key aspect of the old Lurrus Delver decks, and of course that is no longer around. I think the artifact and Karn based decks where Zirda would see play are already strong enough, and the additional three mana to put a companion into hand is negligible in these decks, so I would keep Zirda banned.

Rich Cali: I am way less into unbans than other people, so the short answer is no. There are probably cards that would have roughly no impact on the format that could be unbanned for posterity’s sake, such as Mind Twist, but I don’t really think that matters. Lurrus is a common topic of conversation and I think the opportunity cost is too low to justify unbanning it, but cards have gotten even more powerful since then, so maybe it’s alright. For that reason, perhaps other cards like Sensei's Divining Top or Deathrite Shaman could be considered, but the days of those cards being legal are not too far away from me that I can’t remember how absurd they were and how miserable the games ended up being, so I can’t really make a good argument for those. While this might seem at odds with my previous stance of “I like that they have been printing powerful cards lately”, that stance has the caveat that they are willing to ban cards where needed. Cards like Deathrite have already been banned for good reason, so maybe the benefit of bringing it back is worth the risk of needing to ban it again, but it’s a bit difficult for me to picture.

Phil Blechman: Lurrus, Sensei's Divining Top, and Yawgmoth's Bargain would be fine to come off the banned list. Lurrus should be stress-tested with the new companion tax. I don’t believe Top ever needed the axe and artifact hate is abundant with Urza's Saga as a new pillar of the format. The “time constraints” that Top puts on paper events is more an indictment of untimed five additional turns after round time has been called than a problem with the card. The argument that an untrained pilot using Top takes up too much time is also not an indictment of Top but that slow play needs to be more aggressively enforced.

Griselbrand is better than Yawgmoth's Bargain and easier to cheat into play. Bolas's Citadel is also arguably better than Bargain. Cards like Mind Twist and Earthcraft could come off, but I struggle to think of a world where either creates any interesting play patterns. Cards like that that offer the format nothing can stay banned. I think there could be a whole roundtable on the topic of “when is legacy power creeped to where Deathrite Shaman is reasonable?”

Curran Delahanty: It definitely feels like there are cards that are safe to unban at this point just due to how the format has progressed over the last 5 years or so. I’ve been on the unban Survival of the Fittest train for a long time. It just doesn't feel like it would be as powerful as what other cards do today. But it’d be super neat to see someone try to break the engine in current legacy. You can unban Yawgmoth's Bargain too since Griselbrand has been in the format for years and has proven not to be broken. A lot of the more recent bans make sense to me. It’s unfortunate that the way R&D started approaching card design is by throwing out a broken card idea, doing pretty minimal testing with it and then releasing it into the wild to let the players do the real testing. Despite what some may have you believe and the fact we had to stay inside for over a year; Magic is not a video game. It’s not good to apply patch culture to card design. It’s frustrating to all the players who don't take very long to find out a card is broken and it totally shatters buyer confidence whenever new cards come out. Multiple people have vocally expressed concerns towards buying Ragavans because they’re worried he’ll be banned within 6 months to a year. This is just one example of a “should I buy it conversation?” There was a really peaceful time between the banning of Mental Misstep and the banning of Treasure Cruise where the format would gain cards gradually but never push anything to be broken enough for banning. The meta evolved more slowly but at least we didn’t have to be concerned about picking up new cards and being totally exhausted over the new broken hotness. I like to think we’re moving back towards a place where bannings will be more scarce. I think the W6/Oko/Arcanist mistakes were mistakes WotC needed to make in order to see that attempting to patch Magic: the Gathering like a video game is the wrong way to approach design. Hopefully, they will go back to putting the hours into extensive testing of the cards. Some mistakes might roll through to Legacy that were totally fine in the standard format they were testing but it’s also understandable because Legacy doesn't really concern WotC from a marketing or profitable standpoint. But overall, I think/hope we’ll see less mistakes going forward.

Newton Hang: While a large number of cards on the Legacy ban-list is safe to unban by today’s standard, I don’t believe there’s any chance those cards will be. The majority of those cards have been banned for years now. If the B&R people were considering an unban to some of the older cards, I believe it would have happened already. From my perspective, Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Zirda, the Dawnwaker are interesting because they’ve been printed somewhat recently and the companions require a 3 mana tax now. While Lurrus has been very strong in Modern despite the companion rule change, the power level difference of Legacy makes me believe it will add nuance to the format. On the other hand, people I trust tell me that the infinite mana combinations with Zirda makes the prospects of a Zirda unban more dangerous. For the record, I would welcome an unban to both in addition to most of the older cards.

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Alex McKinley: Probably a lot of the older combo cards could be unbanned like Frantic Search, Mind's Desire, Yawgmoth's Bargain, Survival of the Fittest, and Memory Jar. It is not worth unbanning most cards on the list at this point, but these cards would have to fight through all of the counterspells and hate full permanents that exist at this point. Imagine getting a Frantic Search Hullbreacher'd. I personally would not unban anything just to keep the format more stable after the release of MH2.

Lee Hung Nguyen: In looking at the banlist now, why the heck is Frantic Search still on there? With the new companion rule, the cat can return. (Lurrus). Survival doesn’t even seem that powerful anymore in the power level of cards these days lol. Honestly too, I want Zirda back, but my viewers on my stream don’t think so. I think its fine. But in all, I did say I enjoyed the health of the format now, so maybe unbanning is not a good idea anyways. 

My suggestion is: Since the MTGO meta is so fast, they should trial Legacy Unban Periods on MTGO only. Where they unban certain cards as a test, for four weeks AND it’s a separate league slot in MTGO. (regular legacy still proceeds as normal) Just like how Magic Arena does those special modes “e.g. no card limit mode” or what ever. They should do a special mode on MTGO where it’s: “Experiment Legacy Rules”. And people would call it ELR for short. 

Question #5 - Is there anything specific you're looking forward to from the D&D set?

Sam Dams: NEW INFECT CREATURES! Of course, that will never happen so best not get my hopes up. Jokes aside, I really love that they’re making this set! I’m a huge fan of the Legend of Drizzt books so I’m definitely getting a bunch of these cards for my commander decks. For Legacy specifically, I’d love to see some kind of hybrid of a protection spell / pump spell / counterspell or perhaps a playable green planeswalker that pumps creatures and can create blockers. I’ve played Nissa, Voice of Zendikar in Legacy and, while she came close, she just wasn’t good enough. Oh and reprint duals. Yes, let’s reprint duals.

Matt Vook: With each new set the major things that I look forward to are tools for specific archetypes that are designed in such a way that they can’t just be jammed into the Delver or blue midrange shells. I like that Maverick and Death and Taxes are semi-viable as fair creature based decks in a format with powerful spell combo, so I would like more fair green and white creatures that promote playing to the board and creature combat. I would also like more cards that allow the player on the draw to catch up to the player on the play, such as more free or cheap reactive cards, especially if these cards couldn’t be easily slotted into the blue shell. 

Rich Cali: I enjoy the world and experience of D&D and have played it a few times, but I don’t have any particular desires from the set. I do hope they accurately and resonantly represent what D&D is about. I think that’s the kind of move that is really important, especially with a somewhat ambitious cross-over such as this. This is especially true seeing as the “Universes Beyond” announcement has left a fair amount of players unsure about what Magic is going to look like in the future.

Phil Blechman: I know nothing about D&D but will hope for maindeckable life gain to slot into UW(not green)-style draw-go as I have every set for 10 years. I will also continue to pray to the god I don’t believe in that Clowns become a creature subtype. Editors Note: Someday, Phil. Someday.

Curran Delahanty: I’ve participated in many D&D circles as a player and as a Dungeon Master. The idea that the games are crossing over in this manner is kind of lost on me. It’s funny because I would have friends in circles who played MtG as well and people in the circle who didn’t. Typically, we would ban MTG talk during a session because that game is “for nerds.” And then whenever the group would adjourn, the nerds busted out their deck boxes to battle. So associating both the games in this manner is very strange to think about. The only card that’s very minorly caught my attention is Ellywick Tumblestrum. I like looking at four drop planeswalker options in green for Elves. The ultimate would be something cool if I wanted to actually dedicate turns into exploring the dungeons but I’m not even sure I want to be doing that in my slowest matchups. But, hey. There are Elves in D&D. I can always hold out hope they print out another one to put on the team.

Newton Hang: Unfortunately, I’m not as familiar with the D&D lore so I have no idea what to expect. That said, I would love to see another viable card for my beloved Elves in the vein of Elvish Reclaimer or Grist, the Hunger Tide. Both are examples of cards that are powerful but don’t have play patterns that draw the ire of many Legacy players the way Allosaurus Shepherd does. For the record, I believe Allosaurus Shepherd is pretty overrated (kind of like the modern day/2020 Heritage Druid) but that’s a topic for another time.

Alex McKinley: I'm not a huge D&D player, but I know a lot of the spells do big and powerful things. I'd love to see some just ridiculous effects that are fun to read and have high mana values!

Lee Hung Nguyen: I’ve never played D&D before, but I am VERY excited about Dungeons. Unfortunately there’s no amazing payoffs for the mechanic but oh well. But in other news, I praise the Karn Father and devote my life to Cloudposts. But also play jank 300% of the time on my stream. So silly cards like “The Deck of Many Things” appeal to me, because its hilarious.

Wrapping Up

That's a wrap on this edition of the Legacy Round Table. I'd like to thank all the participants, and make sure you go and follow these people and their content! It's great to have this kind of community and the people in it who are willing to put in their time and effort into these things.

Forgotten Realms Commander

Since last week we got the spoilers for the Commander decks that are arriving alongside Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Commander decks have a weird notion of occasionally having cards that are playable, but for the most part these lists actually seem super safe. There were two cards that stirred some minor discussion though, so let's see what they have to look like.

Share the Spoils

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This card is a real reader. Like, there are a lot of words on this card for sure. This is also a really weird card because it is sort of like a mini Knowledge Pool / Future Sight like card, but it does function for both players. If you can somehow abuse this and prevent the opponent from doing so, there's a lot of interesting stuff here. However, that being said, allowing the opponent to cast something from the mini pool on their turn does not seem like the greatest idea, and this is really majorly intended for multiplayer play in general, so I don't expect this to see any actual 1v1 play.

Still, it's a really wildly unique card.

Maddening Hex

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So this card really did pique my interest. In a Mono Red Prison/Aggro variant, this represents a functionality where it makes it hard for your opponent to cast noncreature spells (which is a huge chunk of a lot of blue decks) to where they might be taking a bunch of damage from doing so. If the opponent can't get rid of this, they can be stuck in losing a lot of life from this thing trying to find an answer. The biggest issue with the card is that the best answer is Prismatic Ending and that alone could take this down a notch, but I think this is a really cool card in general. Note that the card basically stays attached to your same opponent in 1v1, because choosing an opponent at random with one opponent will only ever just choose your opponent.

Eternal Rise Again - Legacy

Paper Legacy continues to emerge in many parts of the world, but none are doing it with as much fervence as the Italian Legacy Community. Held by the community via Blue Dojo, the Eternal Rise Again was held in Empoli, Italy to the tune of 117 players for Legacy. Quite a turnout for paper Legacy! Big thanks to Nicola Guidi for helping gather data on this event, it was very helpful! You can also check out some coverage footage of the event starting over here on Youtube.

Let's check out the sweet sweet metagame breakdown!

While Tempo was the most popular macro archetype, Bant Control was the most popular deck in the event, at a whopping 17 copies over the next deck being UR Delver at 9 copies. A lot of players really liked the odds of Bant doing well, and it did convert fairly well, but the overall performance of UR Delver in this event was pretty astronomically good.

Let's take a look at the Top 8!

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Omni-Tell 1st Marco Pacilio
Depths Combo 2nd Nicola Zappelli
UR Delver 3rd Marco Carravieri
Bant Control 4th Simone Maffeis
UR Delver 5th Manuel Drudi
Jeskai Ragavan Saga 6th Jacopo Valente
Hogaak 7th Alessandro Miracca
Affinity 8th Roberto Francini

Pretty solid Top 8 here with a nice variety. As noted UR Delver did some work in this event for sure, but it was Omni-Tell that took it all down in the hands of Marco Pacilio. I do not currently have any good lists for this event, but once I have some crop up to share I will definitely do so!

Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy 7/10

As far as paper Legacy goes, getting back to normal is a great thing. I was pleased to hear that my good friend Robert Wilson was getting back into the swing of things with hosting Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy, a tournament series in the Columbus area region of Ohio. These tournaments are all full proxy supported events with generally some great prizes (and even tastier buffalo chicken dip). You can check out all of the BCDL events via their Twitter page, and if you're ever in our area when one is happening hit up Robert Wilson on Twitter about entering!

This particular event was really about getting back into the swing of things, and Rob knocked it out of the park with this event's prizing. Let's take a look.

That's right, first prize for this event was a Tropical Island and second place was a Badlands. Third - Fourth each got a Taiga, while the rest of the Top 8 walked away with a Null Rod. Oh and of course, the winner gets to have their name added to the giant chicken trophy in the picture above. Pretty sweet stuff indeed!

Alas, I was not fortunate at this event to make a Top 8, ending 2-3 in actual played matches (there were 6 rounds but I technically received a Bye in Round 6 due to an issue that blew up the pairings after Round 5 and I ended up without an opponent to play). I ended up playing Elves for this event, which was a really steep learning experience overall.

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Some of the things I learned from this event were that Elves sequencing is immensely galaxy brained and I was able to muddle my way through some pretty sick turns here or there (I did manage to win a game on a naturally cast Craterhoof Behemoth on Turn 2) but I did make some mistakes here or there too. It's definitely a fun deck to learn if you're ever looking for something exceptionally difficult to understand though!

The Event Itself

This event had 40 players in it, which is a sweet turnout overall. Rob was kind enough to assist us in getting data together for this event, so thank you Rob! Let's take a look at it.

As is usually the case of paper events, Delver does tend to draw out a lot of players, but in the case of this event it had a pretty fairly meh performance overall. Elves had an exceptional performance (putting two players into the Top 8!) and Lands also performed admirably as well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Elves 1st Riley Curran
Lands 2nd Randy Shin Lintz
Elves 3rd Pete Harlan
Humans 4th Amin Abady
Jeskai Delverblade 5th Robert Wilson
Urza Echo 6th Corey Grant
Madness 7th Nate Snyder
Bant Control 8th Sith Sri

Pretty sick Top 8 overall! As noted, it was Elves that had an exceptional performance in this event, and it was Elves that won in the hands of Riley Curran.

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In Second Place it was a good friend of mine Randy on Lands!

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You'll be able to find all of the decklists for this event right here on MTGGoldfish pretty soon. For now, some action shots of some sweet, sweet paper Legacy, as well as a shot of yours truly with Rob Wilson. This event was a great time, and I'm really looking forward to more.

Legacy Challenge 7/10

We had two Challenges this past weekend, the first of which was the early morning Saturday event. We know from our efforts in the Legacy Data Collection Project that there were 64 players in this event.

You can find all the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

Definitely a lot of what we expect to go on in the current metagame in regards to deck popularity is concerned. UR Delver remains very popular, but I don't know that it is 100% the best Delver variant right now. I think there's still a lot of settling going on in the metagame and forces are continuing to push and pull as we go from week to week. It definitely feels like things are really back and forth.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Bant Control 1st ecobaronen
Jeskai Ragavan Saga 2nd ZYURYO
Jeskai Control 3rd wiky
UR Delver 4th MentalMistep
Bomberman 5th kanican
UR Delver 6th dani_tb
Sneak and Show 7th azatoyellow
Painter 8th griselpuff

Pretty interesting Top 8 overall here. Lot of good variety in strategies really. Lot of fair blue though so there is that. At the end of the event, it was indeed fair blue in Bant Control that won the event.

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There's a light 4C splash into red here for the blast effects in the sideboard, but nothing too crazy going on. The outright intriguing thing here is the absence of Ponder in favor of Preordain and also Abundant Growth. Definitely some unique choices.

In Second Place we've got Jeskai Ragavan Saga.

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This deck has a real high level of power to it. Having just the Stifle package with Daze and Ragavan is really strong, but add in Urza's Saga to the mix and it gets even more powerful.

Also in the Top 8 we've got Bomberman by kanican.

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Some new cards in Ingenious Smith from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms which seems like a pretty neat card (it is basically an Impulse effect for artifacts). Also, Kaervek, the Spiteful is super intriguing.

Outside of the Top 8, we've got a little Omni-Tell action with Venser!

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Super sweet and focused list. We also get to see some sweet action with Orim's Chant and Solve the Equation here as well. Really interesting stuff!

Further down the Top 32 we've got Food Chain Vial Goblins!

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The Food Chain aspect of this deck makes it very very strong indeed. Being able to cast an earlier Muxus, Goblin Grandee is really powerful.

Finally near the bottom of the Top 32 we've got the Rector Nic Fit deck!

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Overhaul is well known for playing this deck, and it's really fun and powerful. This variant is combining the regular Nic Fit stuff with Enchantress effects and also playing cards like Serra the Benevolent (for the Worship-like ultimate for sure). Seems like a super sweet list.

Legacy Challenge 7/11

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event, which had 81 players in it overall.

You can find all the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

Again, a fair amount of UR Delver, which actually had a pretty medium performance overall in the event despite winning the event. Bant Control had a great performance overall and so did the Jeskai Ragavan Saga deck.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st Beenew
Jeskai Ragavan Saga 2nd Theo_Jung
UR Delver 3rd MentalMisstep
Bant Control 4th AnziD
Painter 5th HJ_Kaiser
Bant Control 6th Darthkid
Eldrazi 7th Funnyman31399
Death and Taxes 8th IsolatedSystem

Interesting Top 8 for sure. UR Delver had some play here but Bant did too. The most interesting piece is the continued power of the Jeskai Ragavan Saga deck however. Of course, the winner was indeed UR Delver!

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Having seen Unholy Heat in action out of this deck, it's definitely a really solid inclusion in this deck. Turning Delirium on with DRC is really easy and I think this is a great addition to the deck.

In Second Place we've got the Jeskai Ragavan Saga deck again.

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This deck continues to show how powerful it really is. I wouldn't be surprised to continue to see this deck get more popular in the future, but the biggest thing keeping it down is the necessary need for both Ragavan and Urza's Saga, and the deck is largely over the rental limit of some of the rental services.

Also in the Top 8 we've got our good buddy Anuraag on Bant Control.

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I kind of like Dress Down as this neat card that turns off certain creatures (Ragavan, DRC) but also enables shenanigans with Uro. Really sweet list overall here though.

In the middle of the Top 8 we've got a result from Painter.

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Painter seems like in a good place with Urza's Saga in the format, and these blue/red variants with Expressive Iteration are really interesting and strong.

We've also got some Death and Taxes action!

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D&T is a deck that is continuing to show that it has some chops, and getting a new card of its own in Modern Horizons 2 with Kaldra Compleat is definitely keeping it up. It is a deck that does require a lot of understanding of the format though to be truly competent with.

Outside of the Top 8 we've got Jund Madness!

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I've goldfished this deck a few times and it feels pretty legitimately powerful. Lot of really truly busted plays that can happen with this deck.

Around the Web

  • 90sMTG is testing some AFR cards with Demilich this week. Check it out here.
  • Trying to play URO FAIRLY?! HAH!
  • The newest episode of Everyday Eternal is out! Check it out here!
  • The EPIC Storm has a new article on the Bant Control matchup. Check it out here.
  • Glimpse of Nature Affinity, by our good friend Phil Gallagher right over here.
  • Zac Clark is Drizztpointed with Forgotten Realms. Find out why on the latest Eternal Durdles over here. (Also the intro on this one is A++)

The Spice Corner

Acererak is rearing his ugly head and getting 5-0s! Check out this sweet Dungeon Fit list.

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This is a really unique Bant Midrange pile. Archon of Emeria!

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Maindeck Flusterstorm? Maindeck Flusterstorm.

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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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