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This Week in Legacy: The Legacy Round Table - The Dungeon Delving 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 are closing out of 2022 the only way that I know how, by assembling the biggest Round Table article of the year. We've got a massive group of folks here to talk about Legacy so it should be incredibly awesome.

Furthermore, we've got an update on the status of the Legacy Data Collection Project and also the Challenge data from this past weekend.

I also just want to say thank you to everyone for their continued support of my columns throughout 2022. You are all indeed awesome people and I appreciate all of you!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Legacy Round Table of 2022 - Dungeon Delving Edition

Okay, for most of you who regularly read the column, these articles are well known. I get together a bunch of Legacy people who answer questions about how they're feeling about the format. While I usually try to keep these rather small, the EOY ones I tend to go all out for. We've got TWENTY-FIVE Legacy Players/Content Creators/Personalities/etc to talk about Legacy this go around, so let's put all their socials below here so you can follow them.

Name Social Media Info
Jameson Helfrich

Twitter

Twitch

Phil Gallagher

Twitter

YouTube

Billy Mitchell

Personal Twitter

Dark Depths Podcast Twitter

Joris Koek (Beest) Twitter
Jim Dudek (PanHanGo) Twitter
Luca Fasoli Twitter
NossmanMTG

Twitter

Discord

Jake Weinmann Twitter
Lucas Mietton Twitter
John Ryan Hamilton (xJCloud)

Twitter

Articles

Phil Blechman (ForceOfPhil) Twitter
Danny Batterman Twitter
Anuraag Das

Twitter

Twitch

Patreon

YouTube

Rob Roosingh (AdmiralVortex)

Twitter

YouTube

Matthew Vook (Ozymandias17) Twitter
Niccolò Covoni

Twitter

Law League

In Response Podcast

Link Tree

Podcast Link

DougesOnTwitch

Twitter

Twitch

YouTube

GreenSunsZenith.com

Robert Wilson (Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy)

Twitter

Twitch

YouTube

Kourosh Alizadeh (aslidsiksoraksi)

Twitter

Twitch

Pendrellvale.com

Nicola Guidi (RonColpoCinese)

Twitter

YouTube

Peter van der Ham

Twitter

YouTube

Rich Cali

Twitter

Twitch

Articles

Roland Chang Twitter
Jason Murray (luinil) Twitter

The level of talent and awesomeness in this group of people is STAGGERING. Seriously, go follow each and every one of these people. They all deserve it.

Let's get on the QUESTIONS. You know, the part you came here for!

#1 - What are your current thoughts on the Legacy format? Are you having fun? Is the format healthy?

Jameson Helfrich: It's not great. UR Delver is boring to play both with and against, and it's been tier 0 forever. Initiative Stompy is an interesting deck that I haven't had much chance to play with or against yet, so I won't offer a strong opinion on it. However, my instinct is that it's a candidate for bans, especially if the meta can't solve it.

Phil Gallagher: This is the most fun that I've had in Legacy in the past year. We had a massive period of stagnancy as UR Delver remained dominant in the format for over a year despite the Ragavan ban. Now there is so much innovation going on centralized around the initiative mechanic. People are adapting, learning new play patterns, finding niche tech, trying to solve the mirror, figuring out what (if any) splash colors are correct for initiative decks... this feels like the biggest breath of fresh air Legacy has had in a long time. I think the format is quite healthy, though I imagine that the initiative will be the nail in the coffin that pushes some weaker decks out of competitive viability. That said, I don't think the initiative is an "Oko" level threat to the format where entire macro-archetypes just become unplayable.

Billy Mitchell: I hear the grumbling about the format but I think it's very healthy. While UR Delver continues to be the best deck in the format, we have seen many new decks pop up or return to prominence over the past year, including the rise of 8 Cast, Rx Painter, Moon Stompy, and Wx Initiative.

The best players are winning regardless of deck choice (i.e. Juju, Samantha Murphy, xJCloud, Ozy). The format is exploitable and rewards tight play. I am having a blast navigating the format week to week and figuring out ways to fight the new threats coming into the format with each release.

Joris Koek: I'm always having fun with Legacy. While I enjoy Mono Blue Delver, in particular Stifle and Spellbelly, the most, Legacy has many great aspects: great people (who will lend you cards, organise proxy-friendly tournaments, creatre community project like European Legacy Masters), fun cards, mostly fun interactive gameplay, and lots of brewing options. One of the advantages of all the Commander cards is that many more cool brews become available. No format-warping stuff, but if like me you're not in it for as many Challenge top 8s as possible (I'd play UR Delver exclusively then), there's so much fun to be had. Generally speaking, I don't care much for all the complaining and tend to steer away from the negative sides of Magic/Legacy Twitter. This doesn't mean I won't look at the format critically, but when you see people complain about the same stuff every single week for months, if not years, on end (like calling for a Daze ban), I tend to avoid that or, at the most, engage through humour. I'd say the format is mostly healthy, Delver is a fine deck to have as the top dog, though I wouldn't mind it becoming just a wee bit less powerful, it probably has slightly too many top 8 results, so 1 or 2 cards may need to go.

Jim Dudek: Overall, I’ve been enjoying legacy. Now, I’m not too sure on whether I’ve been enjoying it because the white initiative deck has not only been powerful but surprisingly has what feels like meaningful decisions in a majority of its games, or if even when I’m not playing initiative the games against it feel winnable but extremely hard so it doesn’t feel as bad. Regardless, if I feel like a majority of my decisions on sequencing and what spell to cast matter I generally am enjoying Legacy.

I think it is still a little early to decide on whether this will result in making the meta healthy or not. The non-games where you just play a White Plume Adventurer on t1, make it a 5/5 on t2 and then randomly done them for 5 t3 don’t feel great, and chalice also tends to make more non-games than real games, but I’m still not sold that playing Unchained Berserker is the best way to fight it (though I haven’t honestly played enough to say what could be better). Maybe it’s part of me wanting it to help break the status quo of a blue deck being the best deck in legacy without it being too busted.

Luca Fasoli: Legacy is still my favourite format. I've played it extensively this year and I'd definitely say I've had fun doing it. The current format is far from my favourite iteration of legacy, but it's reasonably healthy: it has its issues but ultimately it's a playable and enjoyable format.

One thing we should all accept is that legacy isn't going back to its pre-WAR form. The new card designed is now radiated into the format to the point that it's not feasible to rollback to the previous status. My biggest complaint about the format is that it's becoming more and more about jamming snowballing threats within the first two turns of the game, but that might be influenced by the recent surge of stompy decks in the meta.

NossmanMTG: I think the format is in a decent shape, but could easily be improved with some fixes. I am having fun brewing/testing new strategies and I like the breathe of fresh air that the Initiative decks brought to the format...However, I think there are too many unhealthy patterns repeating during gameplay, both from Dungeon and UR decks; somehow nowadays it looks like fair decks are leaning on non-games more than ever.

Jake Weinmann: I think Delver has an abnormally high meta share. Initiative cards are seeing a lot of play but the format hasn't fully adjusted for that yet so it may be OK.

Lucas Mietton: I think it's in a weird spot. Delver is still by far the best deck, and initiative instead of allowing some diversity made the meta more narrow since it punishes a lot of fair strategies. I think the format was overall better before initiative, despite Delver being too good, and that Initiative indirectly made the whole thing worse. We now revolve around Delver, Initiative and Combo...

John Ryan Hamilton: I'm having a blast. Is that because I got to play a part in creating Initiative Stompy and breaking the format? Yes. Is the format healthy? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't think it's super reasonable to say right now. The format finally got a shake up, and honestly that's more important for my short term enjoyment. Delver has been king of the castle with basically no shifts since the Ragavan ban. Finally there's a new powerful deck. We're a month in to Init Stompy existing, and I love tinkering with new toys. We'll see what the format looks like a month from now.

Phil Blechman: Legacy is great. Yes. Legacy is only ever healthy in hindsight.

Danny Batterman: I think Legacy is in an interesting spot right now. The cheeky answer is “we’ve gone from a one deck format to a two deck format, so it’s clearly better”, but that take misses a lot of nuance of what’s going on. Initiative decks have completely flipped the format on its ear by presenting a problem which attacks from angles that, in my opinion, haven’t really been seen since Eldrazi Stompy emerged after the release of Oath of the Gatewatch. Unlike the interdimensional noodles from yesteryear, there is a lot more going on with these decks than just Chalice of the Void backed up by a quick clock. I’ll break down what makes the Initiative decks so much more potent in a later section of the article, but for now I’m going to pivot back to fallout that has occurred in its wake.

The result of having a second deck added to the S Tier of the format means that a lot of decks that were near the top of the metagame because they (allegedly) had a good Delver matchup start to look a lot worse. For example, the four color Uro piles get a lot worse when you introduce a top deck that has a favorable matchup. Initiative’s existence also requires decks like Delver to take up sideboard slots with things like Unchained Berserker that don’t do much elsewhere, so there is room for things like Cephalid Breakfast to be relevant again since decks are stretched even thinner for what they can reasonably prepare against. Despite all the shifts and potential for new contenders to emerge, I’m not sure if there is a deck that can boast having consistent success against both Delver and Initiative. It’s still early enough in the “new” format, and the fact that there are still relevant cards in paper like Triumph of Saint Katherine that aren’t on Magic Online, that I want to wait a bit longer and see how things develop before openly saying there’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

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That being said, I get why people want something to change. While I’m having fun with Initiative, it’s largely because I’m winning with the deck. I’m not sure my opponents could make the same claim sitting across from me while getting locked out of the game and beaten down by things they can’t really interact with. I also have empathy for people who are sick of Delver being either The Best Deck ™ or pretty darn close to it for 11 years now. Even if the Initiative shake up leads to more diversity, it doesn’t mean the play experience is one players enjoy.

Anuraag Das: Legacy is in a weird spot. It feels like its the fastest its been in a long long time, and I think that is mostly not a good thing (faster game = less turns to play the game, concentrates games to a more condensed period where fewer cards matter = higher variance games). The initiative decks almost feel like a more consistent versions of BR Reanimator in that entering the dungeon on turn 1 or 2 is good enough to win matches (like turn 1 Griselbrand). In fact, I'd say its certifiably better in that it only needs 1 card to win while ALSO having a robust midgame plan should the primary plan fail to fire. But am I having fun? I think so - Minsc & Boo, though maybe not the coolest kid on the block anymore, is terrific. I also don't know why I stopped playing Displacer Kitten combo, but that card is podracing at its finest. The issue of Initiative also presents a very interesting opportunity to brew solutions, and since the mechanic is so new, I am not burnt out by it like I am Iteration/Murktide ¯\_(ツ)_/

Rob Roosingh: Legacy is in an interesting spot right now. Initiative is the talk of the town, attacking Delver in a way Wizards has been reluctant to do. On top op that, the need for a fast clock has forced control strategies to cede ground to the combo decks for now.

On the flip side, while the long-term health of the format remains a topic of hot debate, Initiative has shaken up a format that had previously gotten stale in my honest opinion. I'm having the most fun playing and brewing I've had since I started playing back in early 2019. Combine that with the myriad of large Legacy tournaments we've had recently, as well as to come, and I'd argue the future of the format isn't quite as grim as it's been in the past!

Matthew Vook: Overall I think the format is in a fine place. Delver and White Stompy are clearly the 2 decks to beat but there are 5+ other established decks that are solid choices for a competitive event. UR Delver is kind of stale at this point, but there are tons of changes happening to other decks and a lot of unexplored cards/strategies.

Niccolò Covoni: Legacy in the last part of 2022 has become a new format, Intiative mechanic has shaken everything. I'm not sure about the sanity of the format right now but one thing is sure, before that mechanic the Legacy was not in a real healthy position.

I want to explain that point better. During the last days I tried to change some lists for the new boogey man and I noticed that every list was polarized on the Delver's matchup and there were some strange situations. Every deck had to play 4+ Pyroblast to try to fight the delver menace. Another strange situation was the fact that control played Endurance maindeck, a great card to fight Delver but very strange in a control shell. Finally UR Delver lists were trying to defeat mirror match with maindeck Pyroblast or Counterbalance. The normal elements of control deck, like card advantage or 2 for 1 spells like Snapcaster Mage, were completely pushed out of the format.

Right now, we have to re arrange every thing to a new angle of attack, I like a shake up to the format, because deckbuilding is a fundamental part of the game, and for me the Meta-game (philosopher recall to methaphysics) is a great part of the experience of Magic: The Gathering.

In Response PodcastPhilipp: Healthy is a big word, I gotta say. In my opinion Legacy has some flaws which almost all happened because of FIRE design. We got Delver as the best deck since, like always, and the rate of which old cards get powercrept out of the format, is through the roof. That being said, the introduction of Dungeon Stompy has made a huge shake up in the format and even revived some old tech, like True Name Nemesis. Without that shakeup, I would have said the format is becoming quite stale, but now it feels a little bit more exciting and I hope it stays that way.

Daniel: I like the current metagame movement caused by the initiative decks. For a long time, legacy felt stale and pretty unexciting, but having a new big deck on the table brings up more options to explore again.

Peter: Personally I can say that I have fun playing in this metagame. It still feels like there is a lot of Delver and 4C Minsc and Boo running around, but we got a new pillar with the Wx Initiative decks. So there is a shakeup in the format and it feels more diverse right now.

Douges: To preface, I mainly play leagues online as Challenges don't line up well with the Australian time zones. In leagues, I get to play against a large variety of decks with UR Delver most likely showing up once every 2 leagues on average. I do find the matchup a little frustrating HOWEVER it's a challenge I'm always happy to talk on. I do think that some sort of change needs to be made to UR Delver and the format needs more time to adjust to Initiative, but otherwise I've been pretty happy playing against a plethora of archetypes on MTGO.

Robert Wilson: Somewhat healthy - While UR Delver appears to be the top deck, its a beatable strategy and most decks have a way to fight Delver. I think the format is fun, most decks have a powerful end game making most strategies viable. While most decks can fight Delver, my concern is whether the meta will potentially devolve into Initiative or Delver as it may be too difficult for most decks to fight both at the same time. I don't think we're there yet, but its something to keep in mind in the future.

Kourosh Alizadeh: It seems there are a lot of mixed opinions but I'll just share my own instead of trying to give my read on the mood of the format. Personally, I find Initiative to be very boring gameplay since it compresses the (fair) game onto only one axis, and that's precisely the least interesting axis to me. So while I was actually building steam and streaming more often for a while, when initiative hit the meta I mostly stopped. Does this mean the format is unhealthy? I'm not sure. The format wasn't necessarily healthy before, with Delver having a far outsized meta share. But Initiative did not really knock Delver down, it just consolidated the meta share that previously belonged to a variety of fair non-blue decks. In terms of diversity, that's not good, and that, in addition to just being boring to play with or against, is why I think Initiative is a net negative for the format.

Nicola Guidi: At the moment the newcomer Initiative Stompy made its entry in the Legacy panorama and it gave the format a blow of fresh air and we’re currently enjoying it by testing new builds and variants to face this new threat. At least, after too much time with UR Delver standing at the top without having any real contender that made Legacy stagnant, it’s something different from what we’ve been experiencing so far.

We acknowledge that reaching an agreement among all the players it’s nearly impossible since there’s no objectively good metagame: while someone would like competing in a 3-4 tier1 decks meta with a lot of unplayable stuff, on the other hand other players would rather playing in environments with a single tier 1 among a lot of reasonable, but not good enough choices overall. Furthermore, it’s hard for eternal players to be really objective about a metagame discussion when their pet deck/strategy is concerned. The result is mostly binary:

 - To be exalted and defensive towards their deck once there’s a favorable metagame for it and/or they are consistently winning

OR…

- To constantly complain on social networks (i.e. Twitter) begging for bans until their beloved cards would become competitive once again. Thanks to our experience gained through the years discussing tournament results and data on MaiDireMeta, we try to be as balanced as possible and put preferences aside when we analyze a specific metagame (at least, that’s what we hope to get).

After this premise, we think that some time is required (1-2 months at least) to find out whether UR Delver and White Stompy are ban-worthy or the Initiative mechanic itself needs some adjustments. After spending the last years playing against the Companion Mechanic, Valki and Underworld Breach we don’t believe Initiative could be as strong as them, and in most likelihood it will end up as a new leveler tier as much as Delver decks usually do.

Peter van der Ham: While there are some clear top decks to target I believe that the format is wide open for experimentation and brewing; which is absolutely where I want it to be. It's been amazing to be able to work on the Initiative in 'secret' for a long time and to see it take the format by storm and finally see a deck challenging UR's Dominance for a bit.

Many very fun to play with and interesting and influential cards to build with got added to the format this year, including highlights like Minsc & Boo, Mawloc, and the Channel lands. The least healthy part of the format, to me, is the discrepancy between online and paper card pools (especially looking at 40K here), something that I believe has to be addressed going forward. Especially if that means reducing the number of set releases.

Rich Cali: Since the printing of Modern Horizons 2, I have been having a ton of fun playing Legacy. There are a ton of intricate decisions and play patterns that are sincerely enjoyable to me and every time I step away for a short time and return, I always find myself struggling to pull myself away because the games have been so entertaining. However, I understand that this is only reflective of my opinion and experiences. When evaluating Legacy as a whole, I try to temper my view of the format and try to view it a bit more objectively. I know that there are a lot of voices that express otherwise and I am sympathetic to their views. Delver has been a dominant force during this time (and for a few years prior) and to some, that's not indicative of a healthy format. While I do hear that perspective and make an effort to keep that stance in mind, I do generally disagree with the notion that this indicates an unhealthy format. Delver games promote interaction and lead to a lot of close, interesting, and, in my opinion, fun games. However, despite this, I do think the deck has been a bit too strong for this time period and could probably use a slight nerf (to be addressed in a different section). However, Delver isn't the only name of the game here since Initiative has entered the conversation. Historically, Legacy has demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt to powerful cards and archetypes. I think Legacy as a format needs some time for players to really hone in on the archetype and figure out if the deck can be successfully adapted to. I am optimistic that this can happen, but it is possible that there is no effective adaptation and that the archetype will be too much for the format to handle. At the top tables of Eternal Weekend I had a really bleak view of the format as it was completely infested with Initiative vs. Delver. I don't know if this is what the format will boil down to but if it does, that would be a pretty clear sign that something needs to change. Overall, though, I have still been having fun exploring the best ways to handle the archetype and playing the format and I am personally willing to defer the choice for a few months to see how things develop.

Roland Chang: Yes, I'm still having some fun, but growing tired of the same old UR Delver still consistently winning events and creating repetitive gameplay and miserable mirror matches. The format is barely healthy with the introduction of White & Boros Initiative decks, but my hope is that those decks knock off the top dog (UR Delver) and force Delver pilots to expand into tertiary colors to keep up with the meta shift. At least green (for Minsc & Boo) is creeping into sideboards, so it has begun.

Jason Murray: Vintage Cube is online, the stack is empty and the Legacy meta has been shaken up—it’s a good time to be playing Magic. I’m having a lot of fun exploring different ideas in Dungeon Stompy, but there’s a vocal part of the community that’s unhappy. Early adaptations still make me believe that the format can be healthy with White Plume Adventurer legal, but it’s still too soon to say with certainty. In the first two weeks, other decks were unprepared to combat the Initiative, but the following few weeks of overcorrection successfully suppressed the deck’s win rate. I expect it will ultimately arrive at a position in the meta where it is held in check by narrow SB cards—similar to 8Cast, Reanimator and other combo—but will punish people when they start shaving targeted hate for more REBs.

#2 - What changes would you make to the current format (bans/unbans) and why?

Jameson Helfrich: If UR Delver catches a ban, I think it should be Expressive Iteration. Tempo decks should have to give up card advantage to do their thing, and EI lets them break that rule. Initiative Stompy is probably too new to warrant a ban right now, but it would be next on my watchlist. The meta may be able to adjust and solve it, though. Seasoned Dungeoneer should be the first to go, the attack trigger does too much.

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Phil Gallagher: A few weeks ago, I was very strongly on the "Ban Expressive Iteration and Murktide Regent" train. Now I'd say "No changes at this time." The initiative has bumped the power level of the format up a notch so that many decks can now keep up with the blue decks that previously buried them in card advantage as the games went long. The current Legacy format is really only a few weeks old, and we're still waiting on many playable cards to hit Magic Online. I'd like to wait for the Warhammer 40K cards and some of the other recent printing to be released before starting real ban discussions. In particular, some of the initiative cards aren't even available yet online, so I think making any format changes now before the full paper card pool is even available is probably a bit hasty.

Billy Mitchell: I am hesitant to change anything right now. Nothing (including UR Delver) has proven to be unbeatable. While it has won a number of events this year, there are metas that have been downright hostile to it (I'm looking at you BCDL!).

We're in a good spot. I don't enjoy adjusting the ban list for the sake of shaking things up so I'm happy with where we are now.

Joris Koek: I'm more the unban type and there's a lot of room there, but I can definitely do without Murktide Regent and Expressive Iteration. Blue is already the most powerful colour, giving it such a cheap and powerful creature feels egregious. Spellbelly is much more suitable, at least sweet, sweet Forager dies to wicked Bolt. EI is just silly, especially with Daze and Mystic Sanctuary. I'm definitely against banning any pillars like Brainstorm, Daze, LED, etc. Let Legacy have its signature broken cards.

Jim Dudek: As of right now I still wouldn’t be quite hasty to change anything but I also don’t want this to be a Ragavan situation where people had to talk about it for almost a year before it finally got the axe if it actually needs it.

Luca Fasoli: There are cards that have no reason to be on the banlist:

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I'm convinced Yawgmoth's Bargain is a mediocre card by now and wouldn't see much play in case of an unban.

Frantic Search - High Tide deserves a new tool and there's little reason to expect Frantic Search to push it too much in a world of Pyroblasts, Narsets and Hullbreacher.

Earthcraft - The combo with Squirrel Nest is not a valid reason for this thing to be banned.

Bannings:

- UR Delver -

Ah, here we go. Lots of people have been very vocal about bannings in Legacy. The main issues that are often brought to the table are UR Delver and Initiative. Right now Delver is an incredibly consistent deck that plays well at every single point of the game. The 8 1-drops lead to some very explosive starts and Murktide+Expressive Iteration are strong options in the later stages of the game. If there's a need to nerf Delver, i'd point my finger at Expressive Iteration. One of the historical weaknesses of delver has been its late game against decks bigger than it. Expressive Iteration heavily mitigates that weakness, making it maybe too solid all around.

- Initiative Stompy -

It's no secret that i strongly dislike Chalice decks, but I'll try to stay unbiased. I'd say it's way too early to consider bans for Initiative, but there are signs that point toward a ban being needed at some point in the future. People have been winning a lot with it and, while part of it has to be because of people being unprepared, the deck does have a relevant amount of "Free wins" just because of t1 initiative.

NossmanMTG: I am generally against bans and would probably prefer unbanning something (looking at you, Zirda); that being said, if I had to choose what to cut, I would probably go for Iteration and/or Murktide plus White Plume Adventurer, to adjust the power level of tiers compared to the rest of the field.

Jake Weinmann: I think Expressive Iteration needs a ban. Delver is too high of a metagame % and is too consistent. EI dodges some common "draw cards" hate and discard spells (Thoughtseize) to a lesser extent. Mono White Initiative may need something banned in the future, but I think the 75 hasn't been solidified yet and decks haven't quite adjusted well enough yet either.

Lucas Mietton: I would ban one or two Delver card (mainly DRC & EI) and nerf the Initiative Dungeon in the same time. The format will evolve around these two archetypes, and although the Delver ban is the most obvious, Initiative is mainly kept in check by Delver (despite being a close match-up).

John Ryan Hamilton: No changes (yet). Like I said, I think Init Stompy still deserves some time in the spotlight. The deck is very clearly a step or two below severely broken metas like Breach or Lurrus, and those decks got 1-1.5 months. W&6 and Ragavan got like half a year. Oko got 500 days. I'm certainly sympathetic to people and decks getting farmed by Init Stompy but I'm curious to see if the endgame for the deck is "broken" or just "a new strong legacy deck" and think it should have more time to shake out. If we end up banning an initiative card (White Plume is basically the only reasonable option), I pray we take a Delver card with it. Expressive Iteration or Murktide, honestly couldn't care less at this point. Just flip a coin and kneecap Delver. It's clear that Delver can keep up with Initiative Stompy, so if we're banning a card from the deck we should weaken delver while we're there.

Phil Blechman: Unban everything but vintage restricted cards. Let us endure chaos.

Danny Batterman: As I said in the first question, right now I think it’s too soon to ban anything. The format has just had a major shakeup, and I am more bearish on bans than most people I know. I’d personally like to see how things settle then readdress this question around February or March of 2023. If you were to ban something right now, I believe it has to be something out of Delver and Initiative in order to not have to address something in the near future.

An aside – let’s not pretend the issue here with either Delver or Initiative are the new cards. Yes, they are good, but the reason they are so over the top compared to other formats is because of the 20+ year old design mistakes. Ancient Tomb (and the other fast mana) is the only reason Initiative is remotely playable, and there’s a very real chance Delver ceases to function without Daze allowing it to control the tempo of the early game. I believe you should not ban any of those cards despite how egregiously overpower they are. All of Legacy’s design mistakes fit together like a very crude dam. If you remove a piece, the dam starts to collapse, and unforeseen consequences emerge. These can be things like having to start banning other established pieces of the format, e.g. Lion's Eye Diamond, or more serious consequences like a format exodus due to players not trusting their deck won’t be ripped out from under them. That’s not a road I want to walk down, so we’re going to leave these alone while also acknowledging that they’re likely the real root of the issue.

So now the question becomes, what new cards do we go after? For Delver, it’s either Expressive Iteration (EI), Murktide Regent, or both. Out of the three options, I like starting with hitting EI and possibly hitting Murktide down the line if Delver is still too good. My reasoning is that EI is the more unique effect. Murktide is possibly the best large, undercosted threat the game has ever seen (next to perhaps Hogaak), but there are far more of those out there than spells that consistently draw you two cards for two mana.

In the case of Initiative, if you ban a card, it’s White Plume Adventurer. Again, I go with the argument of uniqueness; it’s the only card that lets you take the initiative for fewer than four mana. However, I think a cleaner solution is a rework of The Initiative than ban any of the cards. It a mechanic designed with multiplayer in mind, so just add some text that makes it only function in a multiplayer game. That opens design space for future cards with the mechanic too, as designers at Wizards of the Coast won’t need to balance them for Legacy and Vintage play. It happened with companions, so the precedent has already been set. Why not do it here as well?

tl;dr – Don’t’ ban anything yet. If the consensus by around March is the format is unhealthy/unfun, ban Expressive Iteration and change The Initiative to only function in multiplayer games.

Anuraag Das: Iteration or Murktide, the literature for why already exists and I'm just too exhausted to rehash it. I don't want to do anything about the Initiative mechanic just yet, but its on my radar (and probably everyone else's). More time to test with and against the mechanic is only fair, due diligence blahblahblah.

Rob Roosingh: Hoo boy, this one's a doozy! Legacy right now is in a state of suspended animation, where people are figuring out how the Initiative deck fits into the format. I see two likely outcomes currently:

1. The Initiative deck is fine, the format settles into a new spot, and we keep going

2. The Initiative deck is not fine, bannings happen, and we end up in Delver format once more

Now, do I think something needs to be banned right now? I'm not sure yet. Initiative does seem quite strong, I could see it going both ways. But if we're about to go back to Delver City, I'd prefer we take a detour. Either hit both decks, or neither. On that note, can we stop banning the threats, only to have new ones printed? We all know where this leads. Personally, I'm also not a fan of banning Murky or EI. I understand this has given the deck an ability to grind it didn't previously have, but I propose we lean into that, and tackle the unhealthier gameplay instead. For that reason, should Delver return to it's spot as the de facto deck-to-beat, my vote would go for:

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-Ban Daze

-Unban Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

I hate Wasteland. I hate Wasteland with a fiery passion. But even I recognize the important role it serves in the format. Banning Daze would diminish the power Wasteland has in the early game, without completely gutting the card altogether. Delver would still have a considerable early game, but more proportional to it's later turns. In that world, I wouldn't mind giving a little power back in the form of Ragavan, though I'll acknowledge that might be a risky proposition. Maybe Shaman? Please? WotC?

Matthew Vook: I think it's way too early to try and make sweeping changes to the format. I've heard people call for bans on the initiative cards, but they've only been played online for a month and there were major accessibility issues.

Players are still adapting their maindeck and sideboards for the White Stompy matchup. Decks with favorable matchups against White Stompy like Cephalid Breakfast or Sneak and Show also still don't have fully optimized lists. There are still many potentially impactful cards from recent sets that aren't coded into MTGO. Undermountain Adventurer and Mawloc might be impactful additions to Maverick or a Green based stompy deck.

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Overall I'd like the entire paper card pool to be accessible online and I'd like players to have a few months opportunity to play with and against those cards. Right now the only card I'd ban is Mystic Sanctuary because it's a minor nerf to UR Delver and 4C Control. In 3 months if UR Delver is still untouched then the Murktide Regent or Expressive Iteration ban discussion could be resurfaced.

I think unbanning Lurrus would be an interesting and impactful design space for the format. You could probably unban stuff like Earthcraft and Yawgmoth's Bargain but they wouldn't see play or impact the format in a meaningful way.

Niccolò Covoni: I'm not a fan of banning cards and in a format like Legacy i tend to prefer unban or to keep cards in the format, because Legacy has the power to incorporate everything. So for now really nothing, probably if the initiative mechanic broked the format Wizard could think about a ban or a nerf of that one (it is possible to rewrite the dungeon or to rewrite the mechanic). But if we have to ban I would also like to ban something to Delver. In the last round table I talk about Murktide Regent and my idea remains the same, breaking the color identity is an error!

The question is: can we unban something without banning anything? The B&R list probably does not have to much to offer, has plenty of MTG mistakes (Deathrite Shaman, Treasure Cruise. Underworld Breach), but there are some cards that could probably be worth to test again: Arcum's Astrolabe for example. We all remember it in Snowoko era, but without him probably is not too broken and control can try to fight Delver. I think about that card because it could help to play control with a better decklist, plus I'm not sure about the fact that every decklist of control will play the card, as Jeskai for example could have a motivation to not play it. There are also other cards like Mind Twist, Survival of the Fittest, Yawgmoth's Bargain and Sensei's Divining Top that we could think about, but first we have to reflect on that. Do they really bring any positive things to the format? If the reply is not, we don't need them.

In Response PodcastPhilipp: If you would have asked me this two months before, the answer would be a clear: Murktide Regent has got to go, but in the meantime two things happened. At first we have gotten Initiative as a very strong force in the meta and I dipped my toes into various Delver lists and could switch my view to the Delver pilot side. My conclusion is that we should wait for any bans/unbans until the meta really settles and it gets stale again.

Daniel: Right now, as the Legacy metagame experiences a metagame shift, I would not do anything. It's important that we let the meta develop and settle now to see if we need to address changes. It could very well be that initiative or delver would need addressing after that.

Peter: Currently nothing. If the meta settles down and we see that Initiative or any other deck is far above the rest of the metagame, we have to adjust then. But currently it would not make sense. to ban anything.

Douges: Initiative and UR Delver are the big players right now in terms of sheer power IMO. I feel there's still a need for the format to adjust to Initiative, but the format should hopefully see Expressive Iteration go in the near future. I'm not as scared of Murktide or DRC without EI and feel it's a way to not make drastic changes (more than 1 ban) but still hurt the overall power level of UR Delver.

Robert Wilson: It depends. If Initiative becomes a problem I can see White Plume Adventurer being removed, but I think this may necessitate Expressive Iteration also being removed as a way to even the field. Removing White Plume Adventurer would slow down the Initiative strategies down a turn giving other decks a chance to set up. Expressive Iteration tends to homogenize deckbuilding and build card advantage too easily as it effectively plays as scry 3 cards and draw 2 while dodging hate like Hullbreacher and Narset, Parter of Veils. These two format adjustments may also become necessary if the blue decks find a way to build around Initiative and become oppressive by leveraging the power of the Initiative mechanic, the consistency of Brainstorm and Ponder, and interactive UW cards it could become an issue. As for unbans, I'm skeptical it would happen but I've listed in other roundtable articles cards that I would unban. My philosophy is that anything that doesn't need to be on the ban list, shouldn't, but I understand that the risk of unbans is much higher than potential reward in most cases.

Kourosh Alizadeh: I'd errata initiative to only work in the multiplayer format it was designed for, since it's effects are all out of proportion for a competitive 1v1 game. If that's off the table, ban White Plume Adventurer.

I'd also ban Expressive Iteration and/or Murktide Regent. The former gives Delver card advantage to beat control decks, and the latter provides too much pressure for its cost and deckbuilding requirements. In general Delver probably just needs to be knocked down a peg, though I honestly don't mind it being the top dog since it does provide interesting gameplay.

Nicola Guidi: After not banning anything in these months and letting UR Delver go rampant on Legacy, be it for presence percentage in the field or win rate, to axe something exactly when the most impactful event after Ragavan has occurred wouldn’t make sense to us. It’s crystal clear that the lone tiers 1 at the moment are UR Delver and White Stompy, and for the previous one to ban a single card (i.e. Expressive Iteration, Murktide or DRC) would relatively modify the deck’s power level, for the latter the only available options would be to completely ban the mechanic by limiting it to multiplayer gameplay (the one it was meant for in the first place). In our opinion it would be safe to wait for a couple of months before drawing a conclusion because an Initiative ban would raise doubts about the good faith of those in charge of the ban list, who didn’t do anything all of this time by abducting inconsistent and, sometimes, childish motives (i.e. considering too much MTGO leagues instead of other events).

At the moment the following cards it would be safe to unban:

Their presence in the ban list seems to be anachronistic and the product of a format that is no more, since there are cards with a way higher power level. While some of them are evident unbans, other ones could be lead to some issues, but instead of a format PL-oriented and not rewarding players’ skill, we should aim for a more dynamic one with smaller, but more frequent changes to avoid a general boredom in the long run like it happened to a lot of players during the past years.

Peter van der Ham: I strongly believe the first step should be to complete the Magic Online card pool to see the true Legacy format arise, with cards like MawlocTriumph of Saint Katherine; Comet, Stellar Pup; Chaos Defiler; and Pair o' Dice Lost all being existing cards with can significantly strengthen archetypes against the top tier decks. We have all witnessed what major influence new cards can have when they finally do arrive on the Magic Online platform after being out in paper for a long while: looking at the Initiative cards and Minsc & Boo's influence here. If that has been done, then we can evaluate the format and maybe talk about bans/unbans again, not any earlier.

Rich Cali: I try to be modest when it comes to ban discussion and, to be frank, I hate ban discussion. It places a strong emphasis on the negatives, which is fundamentally opposed to how I try to live my life. For the most part, we have entered a new phase of Legacy where new cards greatly impact the format and this is something that I am happy to adapt to. I understand that to many people, Legacy is the home of nostalgia and older, historic cards and archetypes. To me, Legacy, and Magic as a whole, is amazing and I'm primarily just happy playing with the cards and figuring out the new ways the format is changing. With that said, I am aware that ban discussions are occasionally necessary and we have been living in a grey area regarding bans over the past 1.5-2 years. The argument to ban Expressive Iteration and/or Murktide Regent has been fairly consistent and I think this is a totally reasonable stance. I don't know that it's completely necessary, but it definitely might be. There are a lot of adaptations to Delver that happen and that is reflected in a tournament results. I don't think seeing 2-3 copies of Delver in the top 8 is a bad thing, but that's also just my opinion. Regarding Initiative, I don't know if anything needs to happen. As I said, the format needs time to adjust. If it can, perhaps no changes are necessary at all. However, it is possible that it cannot and that cards like White Plume Adventurer might need to go. Honestly, I have no idea and realistically, I don't think anyone can know for sure. Regarding unbans, I don't have the same level of care for unbanning old cards like Mind Twist that are probably fine in the format, so they can do whatever they want there. I do think some of the more common cards that people talk about, such as Lurrus and Zirda, are probably too good and I don't particularly want to take the risk of revisiting them but honestly, it's very low on my list of things I care about for the format so I'm not the best person to discuss this topic.

Roland Chang: I would like to see Murktide Regent and/or Expressive Iteration see a ban. Delve cards can often be too powerful & dominant for Legacy (ie - Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time). Also, Expressive Iteration is too efficient, while forcing tempo players to commit to super efficient UR builds. It's been well over a year since those two cards were introduced to the format and sadly at this point, we're unlikely seeing anything change.

Jason Murray: We’re still too early into the metagame’s response to Dungeon Stompy, so I would advocate for no bans/unbans.

The Dungeon Stompy deck is clearly very good and attacks the established meta from a direction that tools in conventional SBs weren’t equipped to answer. However, we’ve already seen number of adaptations to the deck ranging from Torpor Orb in more SBs, control decks running more copies of Dress Down & Terminus, Delver adopting pro-white creatures or going wide with Third Path Iconoclast, and Stoneforge Mystic has experiencing a resurgence in both control shells & tempo-combo decks like Cephalid Breakfast & Displacer Kitten.

I keep seeing comparisons to Breach, which was vastly more broken than the Initiative deck will ever be. Breach warped MDs & SBs to a much greater extent and would regularly win through 3-4 hate cards, either by ignoring them with Mentor or simply overpowering them. The current Initiative decks can often play through one lock piece, but usually fold to the second.

We’ve most likely not see the best version fo the Initiative deck though, so it’s possible it will ultimately end up being too strong, but I expect it to settle as an appropriately powerful part of the Legacy landscape.

#3 - What are your thoughts on Initiative as a mechanic? Good or bad for Legacy?

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Jameson Helfrich: Bad, I think. It's clearly not designed for 1v1.

Phil Gallagher: I think the mechanic is good for the format. While some games snowball out of control quickly and are non-interactive, when the initiative is contested, it produces high-powered, interactive games with unique play patterns. The initiative also presents very interesting decision trees to control players (e.g. when to fire off removal spells when both Forge and Touch the Spirit Realm need to be considered). While I think everyone will have their eye on the mechanic moving forward (we haven't forgotten what happened to you, Pauper!), I think Legacy decks are much better equipped to deal with turbo initiative strategies.

Billy Mitchell: I think having a mechanic that promotes combat is great. The effect Monarch has on games is great. I think Initiative pushes it further by having effects that can quickly end the game. Monarch, while similar, focused more on winning the long game.

My major issue is with the creatures the mechanic are stapled to. I understand why it explores but why does the Seasoned Dungeoneer give protection from creatures? And why can it target itself? Shouldn't it be protecting the party? The only one that makes sense to me is the randomness of Caves of Chaos Adventurer. And why are the initiators in other colors so awful? Overall it's a hit for me but only for white.

Joris Koek: It's certainly powerful, but in the grand scheme of Legacy, not more powerful than Delver, turn 1 Griselbrand, etc. The addition of "if you have more than one opponent" is worth considering, though. Not just for initiative, but also for other potential future Commander mechanics.

Jim Dudek: I actually think it’s been good, but as I mentioned before my judgement could be clouded from enjoying the deck and hoping this ends up being a positive meta change. It could easily turn out that if it weren’t for Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors that the initiative deck is completely reasonable but because of them existing in the format it becomes a bit too much power level-wise.

Luca Fasoli: Monarch was already a lame mechanic for 1v1, you'd think WotC would think twice before releasing another ability with an emblem you can't interact with, right?

I don't think it brings much good to Legacy, unless you like the "steal the initiative" subgame it forces you to play.

NossmanMTG: I like a lot the idea behind the mechanic and I think it's good to have a Chalice deck relevant in the format (even just for diversity purposes); on the flipside, I think it could be nerfed to make it a little bit less frustrating and more interesting to play around. Removing the loop to keep cards that prevent attacking/damaging relevant, or even imposing a reset every time it switches from one player to the other... There are a lot of options to make it more fair and interactive.

Jake Weinmann: Overall I think any "emblem" effects are bad, and this one starts netting advantage immediately and has a very low cost to get it. The Initiative is not easy enough to interact with unless you're playing creatures that are otherwise draft chaff, playing heavy removal and creatures, or have a combo that can kill fast enough.

Lucas Mietton: Bad simply because it forces the opponent to play a subgame he cannot really win. To me, it's similar to what Wrenn and Six and Oko did, card that forces some strategy that didn't ask for it to adapt for any game longer than 3 turns.

On a side note, it's a good thing that we saw another deck than Delver rising to take its crown, it was probably needed, but I don't enjoy that it's a stompy deck that succeeded in doing so. The biggest issue is that we saw some people randomly trying the pack and instantly having great results with it, which is disappointing for a format such as Legacy.

All in all, if this trigger a Delver ban & gets nerfed, it would have been a good thing for Legacy.

John Ryan Hamilton: Terrible. It creates a pretty toxic subgame that forces your opponents to play a lot of creatures AND removal to try to fight for this uninteractable value engine or die. Lots of fair decks feel like they're getting shoved out of the format because they can't output a combination of creatures and removal at the speed necessary to compete. I was a big monarch hater the first time around, but luckily most of those cards weren't good enough to make lasting impacts on legacy. Initiative is just vastly better monarch that encourages you to play even more initiative cards, rather than monarch punishing you for just that. The Undercity was very clearly not planned for 1v1 formats.

Phil Blechman: Bad by design, good by intent. Break that down: It's a cool new flavorful mechanic. Sweet! I see two main problems with the Initiative and neither are that it is overpowered in a 1v1 format. Don't get me wrong, it is too powerful in a 1v1 format. It was designed for a 4-player format where the expectation was a player would take the initiative and then have to survive three combats before advancing further into the Undercity. That means reaching the 'ultimate' on the Undercity in its intended design required maintaining the Initiative for 20 turns, not four turns. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if it remains a part of the format forever or gets banned as you read this.

The two bigger issues are that the Undercity is a game piece we can't interact with and the Initiative in combination with fast mana in the format egregiously exacerbate the die roll. (some ways to define "interact" include removing the Initiative or turning it off). While it has almost always been historically favorable to be on the play, WoTC's power creep in recent years further stresses that pressure. This isn't new, plenty of cards stress play/draw to an unhealthy degree (looking at you, Daze), but the decisions available once the Initiative is introduced revolve entirely around it or incentivize combo decks that can close the game faster than the Initiative's two to three-turn alotted window.

Assume neither player is on Reanimator, Oops All Spells, Storm, or similar fast combo; once the initiative is introduced to the game, it is the only thing that matters. It's a passive win condition that provides card advantage and selection (i.e., tangibly powerful effects en route to outright winning) and we can't interact with it. The Initiative deprives players of having agency (or in the most charitable light, narrows the game down to whomever dealt combat damage last).

Whether that's good or bad for legacy is subjective. Legacy is riddled with objectively busted shit that are fun to play with whether it be sol lands, Brainstorm, or fetchlands. However, I think if a game piece is part of the game, players in that game should be able to interact with it. (Sidebar for those who will whatabout the Monarch — yes, I think we should also be able to interact the Monarch or planeswalker emblems)

Danny Batterman: I’ve been lucky enough to be working with xJCloud and the Nerdbirds for the past few weeks, so a lot of what I’m going to say in this section is things I learned from them. I’m also going to start this section talk about Initiative Stompy as a deck, and what shifts can be taken to address it before talking about The Initiative as a mechanic.

The Initiative, as a mechanic, changes the dynamics of the game as soon as it hits the battlefield. Successfully attacking and blocking with creatures now becomes the most important thing players have to manage, and a good amount of the decks people enjoy playing in Legacy can’t really do that. The ones that can are often outclassed by the speed which Initiative Stompy plays its threats, and the size they grow to thanks to The Undercity. Back that up with eight to twelve main deck removal spells, four of which are Solitude and can cost no mana, and that axis becomes even more difficult to fight on. Sidestepping this subgame entirely by trying to do something unfair isn’t great either, as hate pieces like Chalice of the Void, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and some mix of Anointed Peacekeeper/Archon of Emeria/Elite Spellbinder address that issue as well.

Despite all of this, the deck is not unbeatable. You win by establishing your creatures, take The Initiative, and then control their board so they can’t easily take it back. The specific ways to do that for each deck are way too long to list but that is the general approach you should keep in mind during deck construction. It also occasionally has the Stompy deck problem of having to mulligan too much or not finding the right due to the lack of card selection, though counting on that is not a reliable plan.

As for the mechanic itself, I would argue that it’s not particularly great for Legacy simply because it doesn’t seem to be balanced with single player Magic in mind. Five damage from a single room is a lot more impactful when you have one opponent that starts at 20 life compared to three opponents that start at 40. The continuous resource advantage The Undercity provides is also felt way more when there aren’t multiple other players to balance it out. That’s why I’m in favor of a mechanic rebalance instead of a ban if the powers that be decide its too strong for Legacy.

Anuraag Das: I don't think it's particularly good. In my eyes, it doesn't really introduce any exciting or interesting gameplay. In fact, I kind of see it to be very similar to Murktide or Expressive Iteration in that it warps games instantly upon resolution. Ancient Tomb and other acceleration push the mechanic over the top by providing the archetype with frightening speed that reduces the window of interaction unreasonably.

I think my analogy to BR Reanimator also persists. A lot of games I see are determined by the seven cards the Initiative player opens with and little else. Either they have the turn 1 or 2 nuts or the deck plays draft cards barely good enough for Legacy. Doesn't feel like there's much in between. It's probably scarier than BR since there's a nonnegligible percentage the draft cards actually cross the finish line.

Rob Roosingh: This is a tough one. On the one hand, it's nice to have a mechanic that incentivizes people to interact with their opponents. The biggest problem I see with Initiative is how heavy-handed this is achieved.

The current resurgence of fast combo decks seems to be at the cost of more interactive strategies. If this trend continues, it would seem Initiative is to blame. If fair strategies fail to adapt in the coming weeks, I'd argue Initiative needs to go

Matthew Vook: It's complicated. It's good that UR Delver is no longer clearly the single best deck in the format. I like a push towards games focusing on creature combat but the mechanic can lead to snow balling and one sided games where it is very difficult to catch up from behind. If I was personally designing Seasoned Dungeoneer and The Undercity with Legacy in mind I would have nerfed the numbers, such as Trap! dealing 2-3 damage instead of 5 when starting life total is 20 instead of 40.

I like more playable non-blue creatures, but I would have preferred them to be cards that fit into the Mox DiamondAether Vial, or Green Sun's Zenith shells rather than the Ancient Tomb/Chalice of the Void shell which has historically been unfun to play against. The current initiative creatures promote gameplay that is much closer to Eldrazi or Oops All Spells! rather than Maverick or Death and Taxes. At the same time it was never particularly fun to play against Red Stompy either and that is what the White Stompy deck has mostly replaced in the current meta. Overall I'd like to wait a few months to see how the meta adapts to White Stompy.

Niccolò Covoni: I think that the mechanic is not for 1vs1, but this does not mean it's broken for sure. Because for now we could try to re elaborate lists and we have to re arrange the format to a new angle of attack: creatures. Also several cards find a resurgence in Legacy, cards like Snapcaster Mage, Ice-Fang Coatl or True-Name Nemesis could find a come back.

My only fear is that this mechanic might warp the format in a way that every deck will have to play some of the cards with initiative (like in the companion era). So for now I'm not completely sure about that. I think this is the time to wait and see what will happen in the near future.

In Response PodcastPhilipp: Hard to say, paired with the prison cards, its an extremely strong mechanic, on the other hand, there is only one three drop and some playable four drops with it, and we all know that a resolved four drop should win you the game if unchecked. The play patterns are just new and people are not used to it, which may seem too strong on the first glance. We will see if the mechanic is a netpositive for the format, which i believe it is.

Daniel: I like to compare initiative to monarch that was introduced in conspiracy. At the beginning, monarch was a very big player for Legacy back then. However, things settled in a way that monarch is almost non existing now. I could see that initiative will show similar development, but I think this is not clear, because the actual creatures that grant initiative are actually pretty reasonable/strong on their own, which makes it harder to evaluate.

Peter: It forces your opponent to play a weird subgame, where you have to fight on uneven footings. It is kinda like combo decks, that forces you to play on the stack and not on the battlefield. It does however result in small incremental advantages, where the Initiative deck usually comes out on top.

Douges: I just finished a co-stream with XJCloud on a Mono-White build and it was pretty insane. The deck has consistent, 'broken' starts that other fair strategies have no chance of catching up to. The card disadvantage of Chrome Mox, Solitude and other effects is very quickly replaced thanks to the initiative and the crown. It's a very hard deck to combat, as it has a few different ways to win - if you fight one half of the deck, you're most likely losing out to the other. I do think there's still time for the format to get a better understanding of how to beat it, but I feel we might just see Wizards step in in the near future before the community fully comes around.

Robert Wilson: I think its a powerful strategy that can help midrange or white based decks with inevitability and forces opposing decks to play to the board or completely ignore it. I think for now its fine, as I don't think the format has had a chance to adapt yet. I'd expect White Plume Adventurer to be watched closely though. However, if blue based initiative decks become popular, Legacy could spiral back into the "True-Name Nemesis arms race".

Kourosh Alizadeh: The mechanic is not good for any 1v1 format in my opinion. If you read the effects of the Undercity it's obvious they are all designed to be marginally impactful in EDH, with no thought to other formats. In EDH a 3-for-1 is only breaking even in card advantage, and 5 life is essentially the minimum meaningful amount. In 1v1 a 3-for-1 is backbreaking and 5 life is a quarter of your life total; the effects simply aren't balanced for competitive 1v1 play.

All this would be more or less fine if the initiative was an artifact or something. But it's an emblem. So the only way to interact with it is to play the game on a very specific, combat-oriented axis. Then, since their deck is built around that axis, they can ensure that they will win. In this way the deck is fundamentally different than decks like 8Cast or Moon Stompy where they play permanents of a kind that any deck can expect to interact with. I don't think that this kind of uninteractable engine is good for the format.

Nicola Guidi: Initiative is a mechanic that forcefully made its way into the Legacy format, and it gave Chalice decks (and white) new tools to toy with. Keeping aside the fact it is another mechanic designed for multiplayer game and later landed in a 1 vs. 1 world, what makes Initiative cards particularly good in Legacy is:

  • Creatures triggering the ability can stand their ground by themselves, and some of them are built to reliably defend or steal the initiative.
  • They require a single coloured mana to be cast, and it pairs well with Sol Lands or ways to quickly cast them.
  • They give you the access to the best dungeon among those designed so far.
  • Unlike monarch, multiple “enter the dungeon “ iteration let you incrementally advance.
  • There are no cards that can actively interact against the dungeon mechanic.

While it’s true that we’re talking about a mechanic designed for the multiplayer game, that alone doesn’t mean it is impossible to deal with in a single player format. However, it’s undeniable its sudden impact that has made in Legacy.

Right now it’s not easy to say if it’s a good or bad thing for the format but it’s lone presence is enough to pair UR Delver as tier 1 and, together with it, pushes some archetypes out like control decks in general and Lands. As always, this kind of “closed” metagame has its own supporters who like dealing with a smaller sample of strategies, but there are also a lot of critique coming from those whose deck has been pushed out or want a more varied environment to play.

Peter van der Ham: Personally I don't have any deep thought on the mechanic itself, except that I find it fun to play with myself. I do think that in the short term it pushes some existing builds of decks out of the format if they do not adapt. But, and I think this is very important, I believe that any existing archetype can and will adapt to it - with the end result being slightly more creatures based gameplay. The most negative influence I can see from the Initiative mechanic is that it makes slower combo decks worse and will increase the meta-share of fast combo decks; which I personally find less enjoyable.

Rich Cali: On a basic level, the Initiative does promote things that are good for Magic. Mechanics that promote combat are a positive thing since that is one of Magic's core mechanics and arguably its best one. However, the rate at which the Initiative gets introduced into the game is a bit too much and it does lead to some fairly lopsided games. I think the monarch is very similar in this regard and in general, it is too easy to maintain and protect. However, despite the slightly unfun nature of both of these mechanics, at the end of the day I don't think the mechanic itself is too much for the format. Rather, the rate of its marquis card, White Plume Adventurer, is a bit too pushed and that's what causes issues. As a mechanic, I don't know if it is good or bad for the format but I think the speed at which it is introduced isn't exactly the healthiest for format longevity.

Roland Chang: The Initiative mechanic, while good for a shake up, still creates very repetitive game patterns, so that is on my ban watch list. As a D&T pilot and enthusiast, I love seeing the archetype shift direction, adopt a different set of hate bears, and evolve into a Chalice Stompy deck. Admittedly, at first I was very reluctant to pick up and understand dungeons or The Initiative, but that quickly changed as I saw a wave of the decks start taking over all Legacy (and Vintage) events. I'm still rooting for it to do well, have its time in the limelight, considering UR Delver's been the one to beat for so long. Initiative has vulnerabilities to fast combo or decks properly prepared for the matchup, so it is a good thing that we see a power struggle to see which deck tops out in the coming months. The upcoming SCG CON Legacy $10k in mid-January will be a hotly contested battleground.

Jason Murray: I think it’s an acceptable addition to Legacy, though more pushed than I’d like because it feels like there’s very little design space to miss high without being broken. It’d be a lot more controversial if Monarch hadn’t existed for so long without dominating the format. “Red zone matters” is hardly a new mechanic for Legacy.

#4 - On a Scale of 1 - GO FOR THE EYES How hard would you fling Boo at your enemies?

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Jameson Helfrich: Boo? 4. That's a lot of cards. I flung a Marit Lage once, though. Literally picked up the token and threw it at my opponent.

Phil Gallagher: Well, once the cards for Naya Initiative make it to Magic Online...

Billy Mitchell: I would say 7.

Plus, plus, minus.

The card is great. Having a non-blue threat that can close games out quickly is huge. It is a massive improvement compared to trying to set up Helm-Rest in Peace, Paradox Zone, or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The obvious downside is the trigger which allows players to dispatch the Timeless Heroes with a Lightning Bolt but I'll take the Ranger and Dwarf Giant Space Hamster any day of the week.

Joris Koek: Take heart fellow adventurers, for you have curried the favor of Boo, the only miniature giant space hamster in the Realm! (GO FOR THE EYES)

Jim Dudek: Easy “GO FOR THE EYES”. I’ve been playing the card in several decks since I believe it was Rodney who won a bigger legacy tournament with Naya Depths ft Minsc & Boo.

Luca Fasoli: Probably 1? Give them a false sense of security and then Tendrils them for 40!

NossmanMTG: I'd cast Fling by sacrifing it. It's about sending a message.

Jake Weinmann: GO FOR THE EYES, BOO!

Lucas Mietton: Boo is Love, Boo is Life, so I'd say just 1. Let's keep it civil.

John Ryan Hamilton: Boo is just a lil guy. I don't know anything about Baldur's Gate but sacrificing him seems pretty messed up. I'll go with '1' because I wouldn't throw a hamster.

Phil Blechman: "Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes can be your commander."

Danny Batterman: Probably about a 5/GO FOR THE EYES. I want Boo to actually reach my enemies, but I don’t want him to get hurt from the impact.

Anuraag Das: 4 mana to ping and draw a card? Sounds just like the AnziD brand.

Rob Roosingh: Yes. I'd throw Boo, Minsc, the scale, the table, and a Tendrils of Agony for good measure

Matthew Vook: I would just fling Uro

Niccolò Covoni: Go face is the play! HS vibes

In Response PodcastPhilipp: Whats better than dealing 7 damage to my opponent? Yes, attacking for 7, flinging for 7 and drawing 7 cards! Its like a Build-your-own-Griselbrand.

Daniel: Absolutely GO FOR THE EYES! As I am playing Minsc in my 4C control deck, my favourite thing to do besides fling boo is actually fling Uro at my opponents face. Very fun!

Peter: 42, definitelly 42.

Douges: I'd rate my fling game so far as been 20/20 if you know what I mean

Robert Wilson: I think Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes has been a great addition to Legacy. Its a powerful curve topping finisher that necessitates some deckbuilding restrictions for the blue decks to play while giving non-blue decks a potential card advantage engine and finisher. The counterplay to it in terms of being able to Lightning Bolt upon entering the battlefield is great as well. However, it is a snowbally threat that demands an immediate answer, but in today's Legacy so is everything else.

Kourosh Alizadeh: Would fling Boo for 20 damage - wait that was Marit Lage!

Nicola Guidi: We don’t know what it Minsc.

Peter van der Ham: GO FOR THE EYES BOO!! Though I must say I'm also partial to hurling squirrels (with Comet, Stellar Pup)

Rich Cali: I'm as close to a 1 as possible because I wouldn't want to inadvertently harm such a wonderful, cute animal and I am fortunate in that I don't have many enemies.

Roland Chang: GO FOR THE EYES, EARS, & MOUTH!

Jason Murray: My current record is a 22/22 Knight of the Reliquary, with a few Marit Lages as close seconds so I’d say quite hard. In GW Depths, it’s hard to argue with drawing 4 immediately, so that’s definitely my average Boo that goes face.

#5 - Do you have any cool spice for the current format? Any sweet tips for players new to Legacy?

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Jameson Helfrich: Stifle is back, baby. I'm not sure what the right shell is, though. If Initiative Stompy gets banned, I have some ideas for 8cast, too. For new players: find a group of people to play & discuss the format with. Make friends with them and don't be scared! Legacy players are cool people and welcoming to new people, and you will get so much better at the format just from absorbing what veterans know.

Phil Gallagher: If you are a paper player, my biggest tip is to keep an eye out on what cards haven't made it online yet and try to break them. You could have been farming your local events for MONTHS with White Plume Adventurer and friends.

Billy Mitchell: True-name Nemesis is good.

Mulligan more.

Talk to other players more. Perspective is amazing and gets you to better conclusions much faster than alone.

Joris Koek: If you're playing black, play Nemesis Trap for as long as white initiative is one of the top dogs. Spicy, yet powerfully swingy. Some of my favourite current brews include Esper Scam, Sailors' Bane Stompy with Serum Powder (come on MTGO!), Mono Blue Rogue Initiative, Aminatou Miracles, and The Epic Thief.

My tips for those new to Legacy: have fun! And don't be afraid to ask questions, especially when it comes to card availability. Most Legacy players want to welcome as many new players as possible and understand that money can be a big issue.

Jim Dudek: Our lord and savior Leyline Binding.

In all seriousness, I do think if Delver and maybe the other URx decks want to fight the initiative battle with Unchained Berserker, I do think True-Name Nemesis is the better option since it at least has play in other matchups but I’m still not fully decided if that’s good just cause it’s so expensive.

Luca Fasoli: I have sooo many wacky Doomsday lists that go from Dakkon, Shadow Slayer to Bolas's Citadel + Tendrils of Agony. Few things in magic give me as much satisfaction as winning with ToA in Doomsday while the opponent is sitting on Torpor Orb/Endurance/Dress Down.

For new players: the Legacy community these days is very welcoming towards new players and many people are willing to help on discord/twitter or whatever you enjoy using. I also recommend testing the format on MTGO, as it helps building muscle memory and deck knowledge in a competitive environment.

I'm not sure if people still do that, but maybe check out some old primers on mtgthesource or similar sites. Even if outdated, some are full of useful ideas that translate well to the modern playing experience.

NossmanMTG: Turn 2 Aarakocra Sneak into Turn 3 Thought Lash. You do you.

On a serious note, I think there are a lot of misconceptions about the format from a new player's perspective; don't be scared of the power level of the format, embrace it and try to match it. There are a lot of strong, cool and even undiscovered strategies to work with!

Jake Weinmann: I just put together a Mystic Forge deck that is pretty spicy, basically this list but I swapped an Aetherflux Reservoir into the sideboard as a wincon. I think my advice for new players would be something like "1. Play an established deck that is fairly easy to pilot like Sneak & Show or 8cast to learn the format first. 2. Accept that misplays will happen and learn from them. Evaluate what you could have done differently when you lose a game. 3. It is possible to play perfectly and still lose. 4. Once you have a handle on decks in the format, don't be afraid to try new things. So many decks are viable"

Lucas Mietton: Mawloc was INSANE in paper, and will be a very good addition on MTGO. There's a lot of cool new cards that are coming to the format, without breaking it, and I have a lot of hope for Legacy!

If you're a new player, proxy and/or mtgo will be your friends. There aren't any miracles, Legacy is VERY expensive, but some competitive deck aren't far from modern prices, so maybe you should give it a go?

John Ryan Hamilton: No spice, just play Init Stompy. The deck is busted and delver players will try to convince you your matchup is bad when it isn't. Deck is harder than people give it credit for (shocker, people dunking on the Ancient Tomb deck for being easy), and you definitely want reps with it. I have an article coming out (probably out by the time this gets posted) on minmaxblog.com that hopefully covers a lot of aspects of the deck for newer players.

Phil Blechman: Phil left only this link for posterity.

Danny Batterman: Spice wise, I’ve been brewing with Rootpath Purifier + Veteran Explorer/Prismatic Vista as just a fun deck to bring to my local Legacy FNM. Also want to give a ringing endorsement to Comet, Stellar Pup. It may be the single best Planeswalker ever printed for getting your opponent to 0 life. I’m just not sure what the best home for him is.

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For new players getting into the format, there’s the generic stuff like: “seek out Legacy content either on twitch or in articles”, “go to sites like mtggoldfish and look at all the latest lists”, “play the format with friends to learn the play patterns”, “don’t be afraid to ask questions”, “watch The Owl House”, and other stuff I’m sure has been said plenty of times by people a lot smarter than me. The one piece of advice I got years ago from my friend Vidi that helped me level up as a Legacy player is to just play more Magic. Doesn’t matter the format, just play. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that the game is totally different just because there are a ton of old cards. Legacy is still Magic, and the more Magic you play the better you are at identifying what the correct play is in a given situation.

Anuraag Das: Waiting for Mawloc and Triumph of Saint Katherine to come online. Also waiting for when control players realize they can cast Initiative creatures of their own and then suddenly nobody's smiling. True-Name Nemesis is also quite due for a return.

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Rob RoosinghChaos Defiler is the truth! Also, Zenith players, you can pick up a Gamer, including an attraction deck, for less than a cup of coffee. Just saying!

Matthew Vook: If you don't know what you are doing and want to win then play UR Delver or White Stompy. If you don't want to do that then pick a deck that beats one of them, tune it to beat the other as well, and then make sure it is decent against everything else. If you want to have fun then I think Sneak and Show, Archon of Cruelty, Displacer Kitten, Natural Order in a blue shell, or Aluren are interesting spaces to explore.

Niccolò Covoni: First I want to invite all of you to try Saint Denial, it is my build of UW “canadian-style” deck with Triumph of Saint Katherine and Stifle (you can find the list in my twitter),as it is a particular experience and my realized dream to play Stifle in a Uwx deck. The Warhammer card had given me the opportunity to play like that and others players have accept the recall, for that reason only you have to follow the cult!

For the new players: Legacy is a fantastic format, where you can play almost every card and will surely find the archetype best suited for you! In this format is not fundamental to play a Tier1 deck, but is important to master an archetype, so choose it carefully! To do that you can try different decks on MTGO, where there are plenty of full proxy leagues around the world. For example I'm one of the organizers of the monthly league, Law League, in Tuscany (Italy), we have around 60 players for each stage! Monthly leagues are the bridge to big events, because you can learn the format, try different decks and the most important thing, you will find friends there! The most beautiful thing in Legacy is the community, all players are nice, they care about the format and are always glad to have new players. So they can help you to find cards, and give you advice to compete in the format!

Legacy is a Family! The best Family! My Family!

In Response PodcastPhilipp: All hail Triumph of Saint Katherine! This card is incredibly strong and I can't wait for it to hit MTGO and break the format in half once the hive mind finds the right shell to it.

Daniel: Not really spice, but I think Aluren and Cephalid Breakfast are both secret tips that could fair well in a given tournament. They are both really good and fun decks to play!

Peter: Usually I would write Painter, but we are now meta. However there are a lot of new additions to the deck. Phyrexian Dragon Engine and Chaos Defiler are some cards that will do a huge lifting for Welder strategies in the near future. Triumph of Saint Katherine will be also a big player, when we are allowed to play her on MTGO.

Douges: Honestly I thought we'd be seeing a fair bit more of Mono-W Dreadnought with maindeck Torpor Orb effects as a way to combat Initiative but I haven't seen it in a long time.

Sweet tip? Don't let poor results discourage you from the format. Legacy has been around for decades and there's a huge amount to learn which you're only going to get from experience and reps.

Also if you have a local group of players who play in paper, you're most likely going to find someone who will lend you a deck to play OR lend out the cards you need to play yours at full strength.

Robert Wilson: I'm looking forward to seeing what more of the Warhammer 40k cards do when they're available on Magic Online. Some cards that could come back around with Initiative include True-Name Nemesis or possible Noble Hierarch or even Ice-Fang Coatl. I could also see Third Path Iconoclast becoming playable in Jeskai based Initiative strategies too as a way to fight/protect the Initiative.

Kourosh Alizadeh: I've been thinking of playing GW Lands or GW Mulch, either to sneak initiative creatures into a Lands shell (I'm pretty much one-trick, I know) or to play Thalia and hope to beat combo more consistently. Mulch Lands seems to do fine into Initiative too, at least if you're on the play. Plus it's pretty fun to dump your hand with Manabond :)

Nicola Guidi: The birth of White Stompy lead to some spicy and heavily metagamized builds to face making their entry and they are: Cradle Control (no combo Elves) running MD Snuff Out, UB Death’s Shadow with the full set of Baleful Strix and the revival of the good, or RUG Delver with Tarmogoyf and Stifle. On the other hand, if you’re looking for unfair spicy stuff, just ask for Jax on Twitter: he’s the combo droid you were looking for!

For those new Legacy players looking for tips about being competitive or leveling up, our best piece of advice is to embrace the Delver faith as soon as possible. If you learn to play such a Legacy cornerstone that could (and can) be a tier among tiers for so long you are most likely to have the tools to face multiple and diversified metagames thanks to its ability to adapt at the cost of minor color splashes (but the strategy is mostly the same) and, at the same time, you will save either money and energies in the long run. Combo decks could be easier to master in the short run because they are made to be goldfished, but they are harder to adapt to metagame shifts and, if you want to change something, it would be better to just pass to another combo deck to play (and master starting anew).

Peter van der Ham: I believe that Legacy has been wide open for brews and interesting builds for most of this year, there is plenty of room for pet decks and cards to perform well - as long as you keep UR Delver and the Initiative in mind in your build. Just follow these easy steps for your brews:

  • Make your manabase consistent
  • Have a consistent plan that makes sense
  • Focus on efficiency against tempo and stompy strategies
  • When in doubt, make your manabase better
  • Play it, tune it, crush it!

Please don't copy Magic Online deck lists for your paper tournaments without evaluating what non-Magic Online cards can do for or against you. Add that Mawloc to your Zenith deck, crush some control player's dream with Canoptek Scarab Swarm, roll a six on Comet, and defile many permanents with Chaos Defiler. Also, if you're playing stompy variants on Magic Online and want to improve your Painter match-up, make room for a Gaea's Blessing.

Rich Cali: While it isn't novel spice at this point, Hushbringer has proven to be really effective at managing Initiative and I think that cards like that are excellent right now. For newer players, my advice is always the same advice I give advanced, enfranchised players looking to improve: Focus on the basics of the game. Legacy has a lot of complicated interactions, but mastering your fundamentals, such as when to attack or block and how to formulate a game plan, will benefit you much more than any other individual point of improvement. Playing limited is one of the best ways to learn these skills and I can't recommend that more.

Roland Chang: This is not my tech by any means, but Defender of Chaos struck me as a solid mirror breaker for those running Boros Initiative Stompy against a heavy-Initiative field. As for tips for new Legacy players, pick up a deck that does things you enjoy. You'll likely lose many games/matches, but don't get discouraged. If you can borrow and play those decks that beat you, you'll start to quickly understand why those other archetypes exists. You'll also eventually see holes in their strategy, so you can go back to your deck and find another angle of attack. Repeat often, but have fun.

Jason Murray: I registered some copies of Zephyrim at Eternal Weekend, but I didn’t actually have enough reps to justify playing it. I’ll be trying it again at locals and when it comes to MODO, but I’m not sure I’d play it at an event of that scale right now.

As far as new players, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Legacy players have spent years playing the same decks and love an excuse to talk to someone new about them.

Update on the Legacy Data Collection Project

This is a good time to provide an end of the year update on the Legacy Data Collection Project. This has been a reasonable year for the project, and while we've had some technical difficulty with replay watching and MTGO difficulties, the level of support from the community has been fantastic.

For 2023, in needing to making a bunch of changes to the data classifications and whatnot we are making the change to the aggregate sheets and starting the data over, with the 2022 data preserved for historical posterity. This is going to allow us to make some distinctions to decks like 4C Control decks (where we have decks that are both 4C WURG and 4C WUBR, etc) and these kinds of changes were very difficult to make with having to adjust past historical data.

Be on the lookout for more from this project in 2023! It's going to be a solid and fun year.

Legacy Challenge 12/24

The first Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Saturday event which had 59 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the data sheet here. There are no current published decklists for this event due to an issue identified by Daybreak Games for list publications.

The current big boogeyman of the format White Stompy was the most played deck in this event by a single digit over UR Delver, but the win rate of the deck was fairly middling (49.12% non-mirror) while UR Delver had a bangup win rate of 62.26% non-mirror. GW Depths and Elves also performed very well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
GW Depths 1st DNSolver
UR Delver 2nd toselluc
Elves 3rd TraceBlaZr_
UR Delver 4th stu909090
UR Delver 5th Oceansoul92
UR Delver 6th handsomePPZ
White Stompy 7th albertoSD
White Stompy 8th KingHairy

Quite a lot of UR Delver in this Top 8, alongside some White Stompy. However, in what will be a weekend performance was DNSolver on GW Depths winning this event. Congrats!

Legacy Challenge 12/25

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event. This event had 71 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the data sheet here. There are no current published decklists for this event due to an issue identified by Daybreak Games for list publications.

It has truly been a while since we've seen a deck outclass Delver in metagame share by more than 1-2 decks, and this event had White Stompy doing just that. However, the win rate of the deck was middling at around 49.28%. UR Delver only had nine copies but it had a solid win rate at 60.47% non-mirror. Elves and GW Depths continued to do well in addition to Reanimator.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
GW Depths 1st DNSolver
Esper Vial 2nd Carroz
Reanimator 3rd ik1cksquirrels
UR Delver 4th AvocadoToast
White Stompy 5th canepis16
UR Delver 6th Graciasportanto
Reanimator 7th satu2112
Jeskai Delver 8th davy2892

This is a much more varied Top 8 with some more stuff going on, but at the end of the event it was a repeat performance by DNSolver in crushing both weekend events on GW Depths. Congrats!

Around the Web

  • 90sMTG has Reid Duke from Gamestoria in NYC. Check it out here.
  • Sweet Enchantress video right here from PunishingWaterfalls. Check it out here.
  • Everday Eternal has a new episode! Check it out here.
  • Bryant Cook is asking if Daze is good in ANT! Check it out here.
  • Our good friends Billy Mitchell and Michael Mapson over at the Dark Depths Podcast are continuing a tradition of having the one and only Gavin Verhey on for a holiday episode! This episode is absolutely fantastic and it's so great to hear Gavin's thoughts on Legacy and everything in between. If you listen to one podcast episode this holiday season, this is the one. Check it out here.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next year as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Until next time!



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