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This Week in Legacy: The Legacy Round Table - Strixhaven 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're assembling the ROUND TABLE! That's right, it's our first Round Table article of 2021! I'm super excited about all of this. In addition, we've got a metagame update (since it's been a while since we did one), plus we have two Challenges PLUS the ManaTraders event to cover.

Oh right, and of course, a SPICE CORNER!

Let's get right into it.

The Legacy Round Table - Strixhaven Edition

It's been a while since we did one of these, so if you're not familiar with the Round Table, the essential setup for these articles is that I get together with a few well known and some lesser well-known creators and players within the Legacy community and I have them all answer some questions on how they feel about the Legacy format. This is a great way for the community to share their thoughts on the format but also for people to find out about new creators and players they may not know. In general, I try to do these every few months or so to get a good gauge on how people feel about the format over time.

So, let's meet the Round Table for this edition!

Name Social Media Links
Julian Knab
Phil Gallagher

Jeremy Pinter
Nathan Lipetz

NathanLipetz#0784 (Discord, which is the best place to message me)

Peter van der Ham
Marcus Ewaldh
In Response Legacy Podcast
Chris Banuchi (90sMTG)
Minhajul Hoq

We've got a veritable who's who here this time, so let's see what they have to say about the format, shall we?

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

Julian Knab: The format’s in the best spot it’s been in almost a decade. The last couple of iterations of Legacy have been rather rough, living through the Top Miracles era, the age of Czech Pile, and the dystopian world of FIRE. Wizards has done a good job fixing most of the issues in the format, restoring a desirable level of speed, relevant interactivity, and variety in strategic approaches. Generally speaking, I think among other ingredients, eternal formats by design require a tempo-strategy to be considered a defining, but not overpowered factor. Current iterations of Delver are certainly coasting that line, but overall things seem to be in a good place.

Phil Gallagher: I’ve been loving Legacy.  I’ve been playing about five leagues a week with all sorts of decks, and I’ve just enjoyed the play experience so much; my viewers, generally speaking, also have also really felt positive about the current format.  Before the last round of bans, so many of the decks I played on stream (i.e. brews and non-tier 1 decks) just felt invalidated by Dreadhorde Arcanist, Oko, or both of them.  The playing field feels a little more level now, and there are fewer games that start snowballing out of control on turn 2 or 3.

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Jeremy Pinter: I’ve dabbled previously, but my current frustrations with Vintage pushed me into Legacy even more. I’m currently trying different archetypes (Karn Echoes, Elves, Stoneblade) to find a long-term fit for me, but I am enjoying my matches. Even though I do have the problem of equating winning with fun, hopefully playing more “good games” will fill my fun quotient.

Nathan Lipetz: Legacy in the post-ban era has been absolutely excellent. I was so happy to see Dreadhorde Arcanist and Oko banned. The meta is pretty diverse at the moment with Delver being on top still and a return of traditional Miracles. So many decks that were basically unplayable during the Oko era are back and it is super nice to see. I am greatly enjoying the format and believe the bans have made it into the best competitive format there is.

Peter van der Ham: The format has mostly been feeling healthy, with all types of decks being reasonable options and no specific deck as a clear favorite. Gameplay has also been feeling pretty good. That being said, I do think that UGx strategies are keeping other fair options down, due to Uro, which I personally don’t like from a deck development/brewing perspective.

Marcus Ewaldh: I think the format is in a good spot. Games are more varied and there are comeback potential again. It’s just not over because “they had it and you didn’t”, even in fair matchups. Sequencing spells is a thing again and I am having fun trying to make Control happen. I reach the later stages of the game before I die now, which is something at least.

IN RESPONSE: The whole crew started their brewing factory and began to produce a lot of various previously unplayable piles of cards. A lot more color combinations seem to be viable again, at least to some extent. All in all we think the playable range of decks is pretty huge. So we love this new “Bronze-Age of Legacy”.

Chris Banuchi: Legacy is very fun right now! Strixhaven brought us some fun new tools. Looking forward to Modern Horizons 2. Hoping for some new sideboard/hate cards and for some more fair but powerful cards for non-blue strategies.

Minhajul Hoq: Legacy’s incredible right now, Delver’s not completely oppressive but still serves as the “police” of the format, and every single color combination has both advantages and disadvantages to them in terms of fair blue.  Non-blue decks are also very potent right now, with a huge diversity of strategies in that realm being viable.  I feel as if the format is currently at a “fun” level similar to how it was prior to the Wrenn and Six/Breach/Astrolabe domination of the format.

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

Julian Knab: Two thoughts. The first is that in the current iteration of Legacy we live in, nothing sticks out as requiring a ban based on power level. That’s great because it’s really been a while since we got to enjoy that. We just ended a couple of abusive relationships and started dating this new format and even after the honeymoon period, things are seemingly working out. That being said, in the grand scheme of things, I do believe that Legacy would be more enjoyable if it both slowed down even more again, and trimmed the bluntness of some tools. I’ve been a big fan of more deliberate games, and both Allosaurus Shepherd and Plague Engineer produce rather blunt gameplay. With regards to bluntness, you’d think Delver is the elephant in the room, but it’s not like you could touch it and call it a day, considering the implications on the power level of combo.

Phil Gallagher:  No, though I’ll continue to keep my eye on Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath over the next few months.  Uro is a really good Magic card, and one that was on the table for potential Legacy bans, but I think it has ended up in a fine spot.  The card is clearly one of the better things you can be doing in Legacy, but it is not mandatory to be playing it.  Playing Green is a choice for your Control deck, not a necessity.  I do feel like you actively need to have a plan for Uro in deckbuilding.  If you’re on a Grixis Control deck, for example, you really need to be packing something like Cling to Dust to make sure you can deal with an Uro (or multiple!) consistently.  An unchecked Uro can run away with a game quickly; you have to have a plan for it.

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Jeremy Pinter: Whether I’m playing in Challenges, Leagues, or ManaTraders Series matchups, nothing is unbeatable. Sure, I have run into bad matchups, but that’s on me for deck-selection. If there was a deck I wanted to single out and defeat, I could, but the opportunity cost would be the rest of the field.

Nathan Lipetz: I think the format is pretty balanced right now. I am still slightly worried that Uro is overpowered but I don’t think it is bannable yet. Combo decks don’t really care about it and fair decks can usually answer it somehow.

Peter van der Ham: While the format feels pretty good, Uro is still having a bigger warping format than I’d like a card to have. We’re currently seeing another set of cards released in which most cards just come down to ‘but, Uro exists’ and I think that is a problem. I would love for Esper and Grixis decks to become more than bad alternatives for people who don’t like playing with Uro. While I understand there will always be a best strategy in the format, the nature of Uro has made a rather big dent in the fabric of our Legacy environment.

On the occasional discussion that pops up around Daze and whether or not it should be banned. Anyone that’s in for that card being banned must realize what the expected effect of such a ban is. I think that would lead to a lot of fun and interesting brews popping up, at first, but will mostly just make it such that all the blue Delver share becomes blue midrange and control. That is, I believe that the effect is that the two biggest macro archetypes of Legacy (e.g. Delver and blue control) would combine since they would no longer have an axis to differentiate on. That doesn’t sound like an improvement to me, so I’d rather stay far away from such action.

Marcus Ewaldh: Ban red, white, green and black? On a more serious note I think it’s fine. Some of the F.I.R.E cards are still miserable to play against but they can be beaten (Karn, Narset, Teferi) and they only show up in a few different decks. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath popping up in Delver, Lands and Combo is a bit concerning but it’s not taking over and the answers are there to handle it. Uro is also currently the only “potential ban” people complain about so it’s not that difficult to gun for it without losing too much elsewhere. This was not true regarding answers to both Dreadhorde Arcanist and Oko, Thief of Crowns, for example.

IN RESPONSE: Although Delver is performing relatively well in challenges there is no undisputable best deck in the format. The big numbers that Delver decks produce are split up into at least 4 archetypes, BUG(with Chain Combo), RUG, Grixis and UR Delver. While being touched by the last B&R Update Uro is a perfectly fine card in Legacy. We think that there are no bans necessary at the moment in our beloved format.

Chris Banuchi: Right now, especially with Modern Horizons 2 coming soon, I think we can take a break from discussing bans and see how things unfold.

Minhajul Hoq: I’m generally pretty anti-ban until the cantrip cartel gets abused somehow, and that’s certainly not the case at this point in time.  With Modern Horizons 2 just over the… Horizon, I think it’s safe to be in this place without any additional disruptions.

Question #3 - Do you think Strixhaven will have a huge impact on Legacy at all? Is Chain of Smog the real deal?

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Julian Knab: Let’s be honest, no. While the set has a couple of cards that people are happy to tinker with, you won’t enter any future tournaments with a Strixhaven card on your mind as a relevant factor in either deck building or deck choice. Chain of Smog is currently seeing play, fragile and will join the ranks of other Tier 3 combo decks self-identifying as Tier 2. The only deck I consider it remotely playable thus far is maybe some version of BUG Delver, because the reach of Witherbloom Apprentice is probably worth ~3 damage over the course of a game, but those 5-6 slots for the combo are very likely better spent on tier1 powerful cards on their own.

Phil Gallagher: I expect to see a ton of Chain of Smog in the first two-ish weeks of the new format.  I am very confident that many brewers and spikes will be trying to break this.  I don’t love combo decks that rely on an easily-removable creature for part of the kill, so I’m a touch skeptical about this combo.  It’s likely very good or very bad, and I think we’ll learn quickly which one it is.

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I’m mostly excited about the removal options that Strixhaven gives multicolor decks.  Fracture, Rip Apart, Witherbloom Command and Vanishing Verse all look like the right power level for Legacy; we’ll just have to see if they find homes.  Unless the Magecraft stuff is better than I anticipated, I expect this set to do what I want a set to do for Legacy: provide a couple of cool tools and minor upgrades to a few decks.

Jeremy Pinter: I certainly expect it to have an impact on my subscriber-driven requests, but I did not see anything that feels like more than a role player. Chain of Smog allows for a compact kill with the Magecraft abilities, but I think there is plenty of chance to interact. If I’m wrong, I guess I’ll be sleeving it up too.

Nathan Lipetz: I expect people to test Chain of Smog in early weeks but will soon realize it is too janky or inconsistent to be better than ANT, TES or Cephalid Breakfast or even OmniTell. I don’t think Witherbloom Command will be played outside of TES (as a Burning Wish target). Rip Apart is interesting too but probably worse than Disenchant or Abrade. Fracture feels like a worse Vindicate which already sees zero play. Vanishing Verse also seems decent but too narrow.

Peter van der Ham: In short: No. But there are some fun cards to build decks with and there will be a number of cards that will definitely see play in their respective archetypes. As bigger roleplayers that can have an effect on a deck I’m the most optimistic about Elite Spellbinder and Laelia, the Blade Reforged - though those won’t be causing any major changes to their respective Stompy decks they do seem like good options. There are a couple of other interesting cards that may slot in here or there, but we’re talking about fun deck-building variants more than new or empowered archetypes. Otherwise we’re mostly looking at utility and interaction spells.

Strixhaven does offer us a lot of versatility of deck tuning; I believe that Fracture will be an upgrade for all white-black decks over their previous best option in Disenchant, with a nice deck-building trade-off based on how much you want to answer Blood Moon on just white mana. Rip Apart combining Abrade and Disenchant while being sorcery speed is also a nice variant that could be fruitful when tight on sideboard slots. With Vanishing Verse being the only main deck playable interaction I’ve noted thus far, though I would note that Vanishing Verse suffers heavily from Uro being the best thing to do against decks that would want it.

On the Chain of Smog and Magecraft combination, I believe that it’s worth trying, and could become a niche archetype for people that want to do big things. These strategies also have the most potential to get broken, and I certainly expect people to be trying to do just that. If I were a betting man I’d say that we won’t see much of it after the first month or so of people getting to play with it.

Marcus Ewaldh: There are a few role-players but nothing spectacular. I like the modal cards a lot. Prismari Command raises the floor of answers to artifacts/enchantments by having other utility as well. Some color combinations (like Jeskai) have been accepting that these types of cards are nothing but good sideboard options. Witherbloom Command is another example that I think will see some play. Witherbloom Apprentice+Chain of Smog will definitely see play but as a dedicated combo deck I don’t think it’s good enough, due to how fragile the combo is.

It could be a nice alternative finisher in Nic-Fit or similar. I think adding another angle of attack in a traditionally slow midrange deck or as an alternative win-con in a graveyard-based combo deck can be a nice way to punish a careless opponent or play around sideboard hate. Solve the Equation at three mana is costly but it’s an interesting option to find Doomsday, Show and Tell, Time Spiral or maybe Peer into the Abyss? These types of decks have always struggled with having enough copies to reliably go off in the early stages of the game. Intuition, Dark PetitionPersonal Tutor etc. currently see play and all of them have their disadvantages. 

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After a few weeks maybe someone finally read all the textboxes in the set and we need bans, who knows?

IN RESPONSE: Strixhaven will have a small to medium impact on legacy. The impact will not be format warping it will change however how sideboards look. The set introduces a lot of neat new Sideboard choices, such as: Rip ApartFracture, Vanishing Verse, and Witherbloom Command.

Another range of cards that are neat and playable in existing/new archetypes are: Solve the Equation, Elite Spellbinder ( or short Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa), and Silverquill Silencer.

But now we come to the winner of the Spoiler season: Witherbloom Apprentice with his companion Chain of Smog. We believe it is a nice addition to the metagame and despite a lot of experts brewing around with it, there is no clear list that indicates a new top tier combo. The combo itself is just too easy to disrupt to be format warping or metadefining.

Chris Banuchi: Mystical Archives everywhere! Looking forward to seeing them in Legacy decks. Chain of Smog combo might be something to watch out for in the weeks ahead. Still unsure if this will be something we will forget about in two months. There a few other cards from Strixhaven/C21 like Fracture, Octavia, Living Thesis, and Solve the Equation that may have a longer-lasting impact.

Minhajul Hoq: I don’t think we’re going to see much in terms of shakeup due to Strixhaven.  None of the cards seem abusable on sheer power level alone, and require a fair bit of “build-around” to see payoff on, which is a good place to be.  Chain of Smog shells are still being worked on, but due to the nature of the “combo” requiring you to deplete your resources in hand, you can’t often defend a Witherbloom Apprentice, so this strategy seems a lot safer than the spoiler season would have otherwise had it.  I think Chain is less good, but the Magecraft cards alongside Flusterstorm is a shell definitely worth exploring, and I think the Chain piles have taught us that simply casting spells is often just good enough.  BUG shells now have impromptu reach, which was not something it really got to do before, so we’ll see where that shakes out!

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

Julian Knab: Could? Sure. Should? Probably not. Outside of a purely neoliberal approach to unbannings, there’s little reason to touch those cards. Like I mentioned earlier, those decisions are based on both power level and gameplay. Cards like Mind Twist are generally considered safe on power level, but, if anything, will only ever create miserable gameplay or do nothing at all. For paper events there’s also the financial concern; Survival of the Fittest is the only card I’d be happy to unban when considering both power level and gameplay, but the price tag on that one is hard to stomach. Then again, I have some strong thoughts on card availability and paper events (see below), so I wouldn’t hate seeing it unbanned. At some point in the future you could also unban Lurrus of the Dream-Den, because while it was one of the most overpowered cards of the format, it also made for some of the best gameplay I’ve seen in the history of Legacy. With its power level severely nerfed, I wouldn’t hate that. All of that being said, I’d rather not see them unbanning anything right now.

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Phil Gallagher: Yeah, probably multiple.  I don’t know that any cards *need* to be unbanned though.  The format is good, why mess with it?

Jeremy Pinter: I pulled up the list to refresh my memory and when I started to say ‘that might be ok’ to a couple, it quickly brought to mind a combo kill that we would be better off without. Only consideration might be Lurrus & Zirda with the new Companion Tax. Lurrus has already been “safely” unbanned in Vintage, the format with actual factual Black Lotus, so Legacy can handle it.

Nathan Lipetz: I don’t think about unbans very often. After going through the current banlist, I would be fine with unbanning the following cards: Earthcraft, Mind Twist, Frantic Search, Hermit Druid (it dies to literally everything), Mana Drain (counterspell barely sees play), and Windfall.

Peter van der Ham: Not much has changed here lately for me, with the biggest note I would make is: not now. Between the large banning that happened recently, and the format still adjusting while we’re preparing for another main set and in a bit for Modern Horizons 2 to drop, I believe we don’t need a shake-up right now. I’d reserve the moment to unban something for a moment where the format could use a shake-up.

If we were looking to unban cards not much has changed for me. 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 and it’s already made its re-entry to Vintage. Other 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, Mind Twist and even Mana Drain; though that last one definitely seems riskier.

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I could also buy looking into the unbanning of Mystical Tutor- and/or Vampiric Tutor, as I feel that the card quality of Legacy may have caught up to these spells, and haven’t added any big offenders one might get with these tutors. Maybe we can start with just the worst of these, and unban Imperial Seal before we move on; though that seems like a horrendous idea from an availability perspective.

Marcus Ewaldh: I think a few of them are safe to unban and some would be interesting to try out. Last couple of years have been exhausting so I would hold on to them for now and maybe unban a few once we have been stabilized for a while.

IN RESPONSE: There are currently no changes to our perception on how to handle unbans. We think that there are some unbans that are safe, and those have to meet some criteria.

  • Be available
  • Be safe
  • Have a positive effect on the meta

These reasons basically mean that no Reserved List card should be unbanned and we only want a small portion of the current banlist to play around with.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den, Mind Twist and Yawgmoth's Bargain are our cards of choice.

Chris Banuchi: It’s possible Lurrus and Zirda could be safely unbanned, along with a few other cards. This doesn’t feel high priority to me at the moment.

Minhajul Hoq: #freeLurrus. Not really.  I am pretty terrible at evaluating card impacts, but I like the format a lot right now and wouldn’t bother shaking it up with unbans right now, given we’re still getting a ton of sets still in 2021.

Question #5 - Given the current issues with the Reserved List and all the price spikes, what future do you see for paper Legacy events going forward? What solution do you think would address any issues with this to help keep paper events going?

Julian Knab: Legacy is doing incredibly well on Magic Online, and the popularity of the God-account-model is certainly something WotC has picked up on. We’ll probably see a ton more of those, while third party organizers have also used the pandemic to establish the best online environment for competitive Legacy we’ve ever experienced. This gives me more than just hope for the future of one of the most enjoy and marketable formats, gameplay-wise. 

Unfortunately, card prices are preventing Paper from ever coming close to mirroring this trend, and unless the RL goes down, no amount of enthusiasm is going to significantly change that. Though the HUGE thing going forward is unsanctioned proxy events. I used to heavily be against this model because it disconnected Legacy from Organized Play, LGSs, and the rest of the competitive circuit. None of that matters anymore. Before COVID, we already saw huge growth in privately organized events in London, and we’ve recently started doing the same in Munich to great community response. I strongly think the future of Paper Legacy are regular (~monthly) regional events with 30-40 players, allowing proxies. And I’m super pumped for it and encourage anyone to start organizing the same kind of events!

Phil Gallagher:  If the success of the online Eternal Weekends showed us anything, it’s that Legacy players want to play Legacy.  Let them!  If card availability is a bit less of an issue, more people will dabble in the format.  Normalize the use of proxies or playtest cards at events.  Unless the Reserved List is just abolished magically to the celebration of the entire Magic community, I think this is the direction paper events need to go to stay anything close to accessible.   

Jeremy Pinter: I’m lucky enough to be able to build and play paper Legacy, but it doesn’t do me any good if others can’t play as well. I’ve played proxy Vintage in paper for years, so perhaps some version of that could help sustain Legacy. Imagine if Wizards printed real “Wild Cards” in an upcoming Masters set or Secret Lair that allowed for substitution in sanctioned play?

Or better yet since the decrease in official support, maybe the local organizers who truly care for Legacy could create their own rules to allow proxies/playtest/whatever. That’s who I want to support.

Nathan Lipetz: I don’t think Legacy is anywhere close to dead in paper, there are a ton of players who participate in the paper webcam legacy discord group tournaments and LFG (looking for games) matches including myself. Unlimited proxies are allowed there and it is a great place to test things or just mess around and have fun. Notably, on April 12, the registration opened for the Legacy Pit Open 10k for September 18. They had 300 spots, and they had under 75 tickets left in the first day you could buy one. I would like to see more LGS weeklies allow full proxies or at least 10-20 proxies. Allowing proxies allows for a more diverse and fun meta without the restriction of budget. 

Peter van der Ham: As always, Plan A should be to get rid of the Reserved List. But with that being what it is, I do think that there is plenty of established support for the tournaments to get going again, and many people will be eagerly waiting to get back into battling with their cards again. Though I do think the format is having an increasingly high barrier of entry, which means that less new people will enter it over time, and may stick to other formats or games instead. My biggest concern is that the market of fake Magic cards will catch up to us eventually, and will leave a number of unfortunate players that are getting into the format down a lot of money. There is definitely room to explore more alternative ideas such as the wider spread use of proxies, though I think it would be insane to say that’s a better prospect for the game or for the wallets of Wizards than to just reprint the darn cards and make a bunch of cash while doing it.

Also, I believe that it will take a while for everything to be back to the way things were, and people consistently go to events in droves again. The speed and success of the re-entry of paper (Legacy) tournaments will mostly be on the shoulders of the organizers that are willing to take a risk to make it work, and they could be handily rewarded. For now I’d say it would be a good thing to keep supporting your local game stores or organizers, and especially those that are having or had been having a good influence on the tournament scene.

Marcus Ewaldh: This is a tough one but I don’t see Legacy going anywhere. It is the greatest format after all and people who already play rarely quit. It’s not realistic to think we can grow the player base with these insane prices though. There are only so many duals people are willing to lend a new player. It would be interesting to know how many of the reserve list cards are actually among the playerbase at the moment...anyway, I really hope that Wizards will abolish the Reserve List but I don’t think they will. After enough complaining maybe they announce that Legacy is no longer “supported” and we can play with Proxies at large events. I don’t mind this at all, as long as the Proxies are well done.

IN RESPONSE: The current price spikes make it basically impossible for a new player (hedge fund managers excluded) to join the legacy format. The best solution for Legacy would be abolishing the Reserve List, but a more realistic option would be starting to normalize Proxies at small to medium-sized tournaments.

TLDR: Normalize Proxies…

Chris Banuchi: The more time passes and the higher prices of Reserved List cards go, I become more sure that we need an eternal format with the Reserved List banned. Call it “Legacy” or call it something else. I’d play a lot of it.

Minhajul Hoq: I find it hard to discuss the Reserved List overall because my point of view of Legacy is attempting to view it as an objectively competitive format, where there are “spike” level decisions being made.  However, the Reserved List is always going to be a barrier of entry for anyone getting into the format no matter what, and it’s really only going to get worse.  If this trend keeps going forward, we’re going to end up somewhat similar to paper Vintage, which is primarily community-driven.

To wit, Legacy does qualify as a “casual” format now, so I think that’s what the future will hold unless something miraculous happens and we get actual dual lands or functional duals printed somehow.

Wrapping It All Up

These Round Table articles are always a lot of fun and stoke a lot of fun discussion. Thanks to everyone who participated this time and for providing your opinions on the format. We'll be doing another one of these in a few months, so keep an eye out for the next one!

Legacy Metagame Update - April 2021

It has been a real while since we had our last Metagame update. This particular update comprises all data from 2/15 until 4/26, and includes all Magic Online events (Challenges, Showcase Challenges, Qualifiers) and some third party Magic Online events (BIG MAGIC, ManaTraders, NRG Series) as well. This is in part due to the efforts of the Legacy Data Collection Project that I manage. To date since 2/15, the project has recorded a total of 2,985 entries and 17,037 matches of Legacy. Impressive stuff! I appreciate all of my project members very much, and the work they put in is helping us get a greater picture of what the Legacy Metagame looks like on Magic Online.

You can find the full data sheet for this update over here.

Let's start by looking at the breakdown of macro archetypes.

One thing is for sure in the current Legacy world, and that's the most played archetypes in the format are Tempo archetypes, namely decks like Delver, Ninjas, Infect, etc. This is the most popular macro archetype in the entire format right now. Trailing behind is the Midrange/Control archetypes, followed by Permanent Combo and Spell Combo variants.

Let's take a look at the breakdown of Subarchetypes (with a cutoff of 50 entries) and their associated win rate data.

This is the real data that is very interesting to see. RUG Delver despite losing one of its better threats in Oko, Thief of Crowns and Dreadhorde Arcanist continues to flourish and find ground, and not only that it is doing somewhat better than what it was doing in the Oko era. During the Oko era we saw this deck with a fair 52-53% win rate on average. It's now boasting a most likely estimated win rate of 54.2%. There's some wiggle room here, but it isn't much as we have a lot of data on this deck which helps us have an appropriately large enough sample size for the deck.

Trailing closely behind RUG Delver is the other Delver strategy in UR Delver. Combined, both Delver strategies take up over 10% of the metagame, but individually RUG is the closest at 9.4% metagame share. Delver continues to be the most popular Tempo archetype, and it's clear that the current winners of the Delver color combination wars are RUG and UR still.

In addition to the fair Tempo decks, however, it's also very clear that Elves is one of the best permanent-based combo decks in the entire format. It's not hard to understand why. The deck is exceptionally powerful and has a lot of incredibly deep plays and lines to it that make it not only popular but also very fun as well. Elves pilots really enjoy their deck, for sure, and Allosaurus Shepherd really gave the deck some juice.

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This picture of the metagame is interesting because it paints a picture of a Delver infested metagame, which can lead one to wonder if something needs to change within the blue shell to help depower it, or if Wizards is currently fine with the power level of Delver in the format. However, this could possibly not last this way because we have Modern Horizons 2 on the horizon (cough) and that is more than likely to potentially change the format yet again. However, there are certainly discussions to be had about the format in regards to whether the Delver base shell does need to be hit by something or anything. My first inkling (no I'm not a Silverquill) here is that one of the more devastating cards in the shell is Daze due to how well it enables the deck's tempo, but at the same time there is pause to consider a card like Ponder.  Nearly every blue shell in the format now consists of 4 Brainstorm / 4 Ponder, which is a truly intriguing shift in the past few years. I remember a time in the format where Miracles players used to argue over the existence of Ponder even in the shell of the deck (including arguments on whether you should play zero copies, two copies, or three copies, but never a full four). Now however, the thought processes have utterly shifted here that Ponder is pretty much universally a four-of card in these shells. If we consider that Brainstorm is likely off the table (and it likely is), then Ponder seems reasonable. Let me be clear though in that I'm not advocating for these cards to be banned, I'm merely suggesting possibilities on things that could help depower the Delver strategy a bit, if Wizards does decide this is something that they would like to correct.

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There's also a reasonable argument to ban Delver itself, as blue having one of the most aggressive one drop creatures of all time is sometimes a bit much, and maybe banning it would force the Delver pilots into different creatures to make the deck work, but it may not have much if any actual impact which is a little frightening. Delver certainly is a powerful and aggressive card, but the deck doesn't need it to win and could just replace it with a close but not nearly as threatening card. What makes Delver so strong in that regards is that it is one of the best backup plans in the entire strategy, by the sheer virtue of its aggressiveness.

Outside of all of this however, the format actually feels rather reasonable. Yes, there's a fair amount of Delver in premier events, but there's also a lot of decks being tried out and crafted, and plenty of archetypes being worked on. In all reality, it's a pretty good time to be brewing a bit in the format with different things.

It will be interesting to see what the next couple of months brings, and whether or not we'll be talking about bad cards in Modern Horizons 2 or if we'll still be talking about Delver, but the Legacy Data Collection project will continue collecting data and seeing what the metagame seems to be doing.

Deck Spotlight - The Jeweled Lotus Deck

Since this has been kicking around the Twitterverse and Redditverse, I figured it would be fun to talk about this deck. This is a deck that started popping up recently and it's a deck that manages to use 4x Jeweled Lotus as an actual card in the deck. How does this work? Well, let's look at the list.

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Credit for the naming of this goes to Jonathan De Leo, who suggested this name on a recent video by our good friend Brian Coval (which you can find in the "Around the Web" section further in the article)

The primary interaction for the Lotus in this deck is the card Doubling Cube. One of the more unusual and strange interactions with this card is that when it doubles the mana in your mana pool, the mana it creates is just normal mana. Any restrictions on the mana, for example the restriction of only being able to be spent on Commanders, is not copied to the newly created mana. This takes some up front work to make it happen, but essentially what you can do is cast multiple Lotuses and then double the mana created by them for a bunch of unrestricted mana. You will still have the restricted mana in your mana pool and thus will be unable to use it but you will end up with so much more mana in the long run. This deck can utilize all this mana by funnelling it into things like Mystic Forge / Echo of Eons, as well as generating more mana with Key untap effects. The win con is generally casting a very large Walking Ballista or chaining spells through Aetherflux Reservoir (all fetchable by Karn, the Great Creator) to win the game.

This is a true example of pure Legacy ingenuity to take a card that is otherwise completely useless and see if they can make it work within the framework of the format. Kudos to the players who worked on this for sure, it's very amusing and fun.

Of course, this drew some hubbub in the Commander community because of how this interaction works, but rest assured that this isn't breaking the Legacy bank any time soon. However, it's a super cool and fun/interesting concept and I love how ingenious it is.

Legacy Challenge 4/24

We had two Challenges this past weekend, the first of which was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 73 players in it, thanks to the efforts of the Legacy Data Collection Project.

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

Let's look at the breakdown.

Tempo decks and especially Delver were popular here, but they didn't convert all that well, and didn't convert at all into the Top 8. We saw a good bit of dedicated Chain of Smog decks but they also didn't really seem to do very well either. Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Elves 1st TrincoTeq
Bant Titan 2nd tyaburi
Maverick 3rd AlecInTheInk
ANT 4th Kuranari-Jackpa
Sneak and Show 5th snoopy-magic
Death and Taxes 6th EronRelentless
Maverick 7th habsburger
ANT 8th Fuz65

Well this is pretty neat. A Top 8 with only really one fair blue deck (Bant Titan of all things) and no Delver. Very interesting stuff. And even more fun and interesting is that the event was won by none other than Elves!

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This list is on double Craterhoof and no copies of Archon of Valor's Reach. This card tends to float in and out of Elves builds, so it's really an option if you think it is needed and can attack the particular metagame. Two Once Upon a Time main deck is also pretty interesting, especially trimming down on Birchlore Rangers.

The Second Place finalist was on Bant Titan.

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This is like a fair blue control deck that seeks to go wider with the ramp strategies, including Growth Spiral and Life from the Loam to push out an early Primeval Titan + Uro with Field of the Dead. Really neat list for sure.

Also in the Top 8 we had ANT!

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The big thing here is the sideboard compact combo of the Chain of Smog/Witherbloom Apprentice combo. Gives the deck another way of winning the game which is really interesting, and Witherbloom Apprentice on its own is potent with Storm spells.

Further down the Top 8 we had a sweet 4C/Naya Maverick list.

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No Knight of the Reliquary, but more leaning on the power of Hexdrinker here. Also neat to see new card Elite Spellbinder here as a taxing effect. Super interesting list for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by the BUG Smog variant.

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People are really still figuring out what this deck entails but this version is fairly straightforward in what it's trying to do. The fact that this can win with a fair control game as well is certainly powerful and interesting.

Legacy Challenge 4/25

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the Sunday afternoon event, which had 101 players in it.

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

Let's take a look at the breakdown.

Delver did really well in this particular event, and I mean really really well. Let's take a look at the Top 8 to show what I mean.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Delver 1st HJ_Kaiser
Elves 2nd Testacular
Humans 3rd KelMasterP
UR Delver 4th Ark4n
RUG Delver 5th Mazzu93
UR Delver 6th slow_brz
Jund Phoenix 7th musasabi
Omni-Tell 8th killersuv

4/8 of the Top 8 here is Delver decks, with some veritable masters of Legacy behind them. At the end of the event it was Hans Jacob Goddik (HJ_Kaiser) who took it all down. HJ is an absolutely powerful Delver player, so it's no surprise to see him do well with RUG Delver.

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The main deck Mystical Dispute is really intriguing. The card is very powerful for sure. Also we see no Uro's in the 75, relying more on Goyf/Mandrills and Hexdrinker mainly.

The Second Place finalist is our good friend Testacular on Elves!

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Testacular has an Archon in the sideboard here and two Hoof in the main. This is certainly a powerful list for sure. Main deck Collector Ouphe is also a real statement given the popularity of the Mystic Forge deck as of late.

Also in the Top 8 of this event we have UW Humans.

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Elite Spellbinder yet again! Backing up this new card is a bunch of Human tribal stuff from Thalia's Lieutenant to Champion of the Parish. This is a really super interesting list for sure.

At the bottom end of the Top 8 we have Jund Phoenix!

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This deck is baking in the Smog combo to the deck as well in conjunction with both Apprentice and Sedgemoor Witch as sort of a Young Pyromancer effect in the deck. This is a really neat list, and looks like a lot of fun.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by White Eldrazi.

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Oh hey it's Elite Spellbinder again! Taxing your opponent's spells while beating in with big Eldrazi seems quite good for sure.

ManaTraders Series Legacy 4/24-4/25

This past weekend was also the Swiss+Top 8 portions of the ManaTraders Series for April, which was Legacy. The Swiss portion of the event took place on Saturday and the Top 8 on Sunday. There were 170 players overall!

You can find all the information on the decklists for this event here and the data sheet for the event here.

Let's take a look at the breakdown.

This event had a pretty solid amount of Delver players in it. Given that the deck is pretty friendly to players new to the format, players who mainly grind the ManaTraders series but not necessarily Legacy all the time can pick up into it and do well with it. Overall however this looked like a pretty solid event.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Omni-Tell 1st sandoiche
GW Depths 2nd LynnChalice
UR Delver 3rd Darthkid
4C Control 4th stefanogs
RUG Delver 5th MentalMisstep
Red Prison 6th joaofelipen72
UR Delver 7th Paradise_lost
Lands 8th Promidnightz

Bit of Delver here, but also a lot of different stuff too. At the end of it all it was UG Omni that took everything down.

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There's a Eureka in this deck, and I just figured you should know that. The fair plan stuff adds to the deck by having a fair game plan to fall back on, but Omni doesn't generally need that too much. Still, this is certainly an interesting list.

The Second Place finalist is our good friend LynnChalice on GW Depths!

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This deck is sweet for sure. Having both the Depths combo and the Field of the Dead shenanigans for long games is super strong. There is a light splash into black for Decay here but nothing too hateful.

Also in the Top 8 we had a sweet 4C Control list.

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Solidly interesting Miracles list with a maindeck Klothys, God of Destiny. The big thing here is Abundant Growth to enable the manabase a bit. Also, it's sweet to see new card Rip Apart in the sideboard.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have Lands.

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Matt Brown (Promidnightz) is no stranger to this deck, so it's great to see him continue to crush with it. Valakut Exploration was certainly a powerful engine card for this deck and continues to define it.

Outside of the Top 8 and farther down the standings we saw Manaless Dredge!

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Serra Avatar is some real business in the sideboard. Those are for those games where you need a way to not lose to your draw step. This list is super neat though.

And now for the most glorious thing I've laid eyes on ever. I might have to try this deck for grinsies. Legacy Tibalt's Trickery.

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The idea here is that you're cascading into Tibalt's Trickery with Violent Outburst or Shardless Agent and hopefully hitting one of the dumb big cards in the deck like Emrakul or Omniscience. As a backup plan? Show and Tell because why not. I'm in love.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend Peter van der Ham had a video on Grixis Sedgemoor Witch Delver. Check it out here.
  • 90sMTG seeing what Lurrus looks like now that the Mechanic has changed! Check it out here.
  • Canadian Threshold had on our good friend FrancoBolli (aka Jack Vinella)! Check it out here.
  • Rich Cali with a guide to Mystic Forge Combo! Check it out here.
  • Court of Grace Control by our good friend Phil Gallagher. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Brian Coval decided to take the infamous Jeweled Lotus deck for a spin. Check out the video here.

The Spice Corner

Paradigm Shift Control!

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Has anyone found Blex yet? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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What Someone Else Is Playing This Week

I hit 1,000 followers on Twitter finally, so I'm working on something ultra special. If you've been following my Twitter, you know what this likely entails, but it will be super amusing. So keep your eyes peeled to there for an upcoming stream with a deck that is pure meme territory, but so incredibly worth every minute.

Instead of one of my decklists though, this week you are in for a treat from our good friend Marcus Ewaldh who sent me this sick Mono Blue Omni-Tell list. One of the ways this deck wins is by using Cunning Wish for Research // Development and then getting whatever it needs to win the game. Super cool.

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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.

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