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This Week in Legacy: The Niche Deck Spotlight

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we'll be talking about some of the more niche decks in the Legacy format, decks that often have a strong devoted following of players that enjoy them regardless of how they may be positioned in the overall metagame. There's a bit of something for everyone here, so I'm really looking forward to it. Furthermore we'll be on the graveyard shift for our Level Up Lesson this week as we talk about graveyard related mechanics and how they function. In addition, since this week is all deck spotlights, there's no specific Deck Focus this week and instead, we'll simply have our Legacy Challenge coverage and the ever-important Spice Corner.

Before we jump into the thick of things I just wanted to take a moment and let you folks know how much I appreciate your readership during times like these. My own situation continues to evolve as the state of Ohio has put into effect a "stay at home" order to try and curb things ahead of time. This currently means I am working from home for my regular day job. Rest assured, I'm safe and so is my close family. For everyone out there in similar situations or even worse, know that my heart is with you!

Now let's talk about some Legacy!

Niche Legacy - When You Want to Have a Little Fun

While we often spend an amount of time talking about various Legacy decks the ones we end up discussing are more often than not the more competitive aligned decks in the format. However, Legacy as a format is fairly wide open and full of interesting decks, and not all of them are among the most popular, but they do have strong, dedicated followings. In addition to being fun to play, a lot of these decks are genuinely several key printings away from being truly great, and even then the most competent pilots of these decks can be powerful opponents and can do well in events with their weapon of choice. You will often see repeated names for these archetypes, mainly because of how much invested time these players have on their decks.

We'll be talking about four different archetypes and also be talking about why these decks tend to remain fringe in this day and age of Legacy.

Nic Fit

I would be remiss if I didn't get to talk about Nic Fit in a spotlight focusing on niche decks. Nic Fit refers to a suite of green/black ramp control/midrange decks based on the combination of the cards Veteran Explorer + Cabal Therapy. Nic Fit (whose name comes from a Sonic Youth song of the same name as recorded by the original Source user Tao who created the deck) seeks to develop a ramp advantage over its opponent by mainly planning for the opponent to either not be playing any basic lands at all or not being able to use any basics granted in a timely fashion. There is a wide array of strategies of this deck out there, as the name encompasses many different color splashes and game plans.

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One of the major draws of this deck is that it can often play cards that other decks simply cannot because of the mana ramp advantage presented by the Vetex/Therapy package. This often leads to a bit of a joke around the deck on the basis of being like playing "EDH"/Commander in Legacy. However, most of the more dedicated pilots of this deck are dedicated because the deck presents a customizable experience that can be tailored to individual play style. I myself have enjoyed the play style of this deck and have worked on different versions of it throughout my time in Legacy, even to the point of having taken an Abzan aligned version to a 10-5 finish at Grand Prix Columbus in 2016.

The major issue however with Nic Fit in 2019-2020 is that more and more decks are playing basic lands, either through the usage of Arcum's Astrolabe or just more decks appearing that utilize them well. The other issue is general power creep of the cards of 2019-2020. This has made it hard to develop a Nic Fit list that can be relatively able to compete with the overall metagame because of just how powerful everything has gotten, and how hard it is to ignore those cards in deck building. This new world has presented some real conundrums to Nic Fit decks and the answer is not super clear how they will eventually adapt and move forward.


Enchantress is a deck that focuses on exactly what it sounds like: utilizing "Enchantress" effects (effects that draw a card whenever you cast an Enchantment) and enchantments that present a response to the board that is generally "Go away. I don't want to play with you." Enchantress is mainly like a prison deck that slowly squeezes the life from the opponent until it has a way to just end the game. This game ending button has differed greatly over the deck's history, the most recent of which being the card Destiny Spinner from Theros: Beyond Death but also cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

One of the more prominent pilots of this deck is the MTGO user SpatulaOfTheAges.

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Enchantress is a deck that continues to receive new and interesting toys virtually any set that has enchantments in it. Because of this it often receives minor upgrades throughout the years, however at the deck's core it is still ultra reliant on a very specific game plan of getting an Enchantress effect on the board and then snowballing from there. Because of this, simply knowing how to interact with the deck and being able to get rid of those effects (either by countering them or other means) can go a long way towards disrupting the deck's entire game plan. That being said, once the deck does get going however, the amount of card draw the deck can put out is absolutely insane.

This is a deck that does require some really specific cards but it can be a lot of fun and has a really dedicated community of players continually working on various builds of it.


Pox is generally a mono black deck that is all about disrupting the opponent's entire game plan. This deck seeks to answer a lot of the following questions:

  • Does my opponent have cards in hand? Not anymore.
  • Does my opponent have lands in play? Not anymore.
  • Does my opponent have creatures in play? Haha, nope!

These are pretty important questions to any game, and Pox tries to do its best to answer them with the most egregious use of cards ever. Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, Sinkhole, Smallpox all do things to try to answer this question.

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The deck is of course, named after the OG card Pox which occasionally still sees play in the deck. Pox as a deck mainly just wants to be as disruptive as possible, and then win the game painfully and slowly. Win conditions for this deck have included in the past the use of Cursed Scroll shocking a player every turn until they're dead to the use of cards like Phyrexian Totem to try to beat down. Planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil also help in ending games. Pox is also one of the few places that cards like Nether Void and The Abyss can see play as they have become too slow and unwieldy in the rest of the format.

The major problem behind Pox however is the sheer fact that the format has mainly outpaced the deck, and Veil of Summer has proven to be the best most effective answer to literally every spell in Pox's toolbox. Combine this with the fact that Pox is at the mercy of its top decks generally and not able to actively tutor for cards it needs to win the game it can be easy to see why this deck is fairly fringe. Still, there are a very dedicated few following on Discord of this deck, as a good number of players enjoy the sheer play style of Turn 1 Dark Ritual + Hymn to Tourach + Thoughtseize).

Rip/Helm Combo

Our last niche deck to talk about this week is the combination of Rest in Peace + Helm of Obedience, most commonly known as RIP/Helm. This deck takes a typically U/W control shell that drops in the combination of the two cards in addition to cards like Energy Field to protect the player while setting up.

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The way that this deck functions is that it gets a Rest in Peace on board followed by a Helm of Obedience and then activating the Helm for one (since X from Helm can't be zero). Because of how Helm is worded, the player being Helm'ed will put cards into exile as opposed to the graveyard, generally never fulfilling Helm's clause of having to put X cards in the graveyard or hit a creature with CMC X. In short, this makes the opponent completely exile their library when [[Rest in Peace] is in play. In addition to this, Energy Field also makes it so the graveyard clause of having to sacrifice Field never takes place.

One of the caveats of this deck is that its game plan is overtly slow to get into play and activate. The deck has to deploy and protect both pieces of the combo and potentially be able to activate the combo the turn the Helm comes down, which can be tricky on mana given that the newer versions of the deck are running only one Ancient Tomb to help accelerate. This makes the deck rather fringe, but it can be a lot of fun if you're looking for something different in a U/W based control shell.

Level Up Lesson - Graveyard Tricks for Graveyard Mages

Our level up lesson this week is all about the graveyard and various mechanics that interact with it. The most common mechanics that see play in Legacy that interact with the graveyard in some fashion are Dredge, Delve, and Flashback. Let's first talk about Dredge.

Dredge is a mechanic that replaces the act of drawing a card with an instance of putting X cards from the top of your library into your graveyard for the tradeoff of the card with Dredge returning to your hand. So for example, Golgari Grave-Troll in the graveyard has Dredge 6, which means if you would draw a card you may instead replace it with Dredge 6, putting 6 cards into your graveyard and then returning the Troll to hand. At face value, this seems to be pretty simple, but there are some important things to know about how this functions.

For starters, one of the important things to remember about Dredging is that each instance of a draw is a separate event and you choose how to apply replacement effects based on each instance, not before you begin. So, for example, a card like Faithless Looting that states "Draw two" instead of having to choose whether to replace all your draws with Dredges you do it for each instance of drawing a card. So, for example, you have a Golgari Grave-Troll in the graveyard and cast a Faithless Looting.  You elect to replace your first Draw with Dredge 6, taking 6 cards from the top of your library, putting them into your graveyard, and then putting the Troll into your hand. During this Dredge, you put a Stinkweed Imp into your graveyard. At this point, you can then elect to replace your second draw with Dredge 5, repeating the action of Dredging. This holds true of any Draw effect that instructs you to draw more than one card.

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Furthermore, whenever an effect such as Dredge is telling you to put multiple cards into your graveyard from your library, it is important to note that not only do you get to look at those cards before putting them into your graveyard, but you do also get to decide what order those cards go into the graveyard as well. The main reason this can be important is if you are playing a deck like Manaless Dredge that relies on graveyard order. Legacy is a format where technically even if you're not playing a deck that utilizes cards that care about it, the graveyard order must be preserved because there are cards in the format that care about it. One of the primary ones that sees play is Nether Shadow out of Manaless Dredge. When you're dredging, you can choose to order the cards into the graveyard such that Nether Shadow's trigger will go off properly with three creatures above it in the graveyard.

One other thing to note about Dredge is how the mechanic interacts with effects from cards like Leovold, Emissary of Trest and Narset, Parter of Veils. Dredge is a replacement effect on draws, meaning that the act of drawing a card does not actually occur if it is replaced by a Dredge. What this means is that as long as you replace all your draws in a turn with a Dredge effect, you can continue to Dredge as much as you want with a Leovold in play. However, should you need to actually draw a card in that turn, then any subsequent draws that would normally occur cannot be replaced by Dredging, because the draws can't begin to occur in the first place with Leovold's static effect.

Moving on to Delve! Delve as a mechanic can sometimes be a little difficult for some to grok. It is at its core a way to cast spells by providing an alternate means of paying the costs. This is important because it's worth noting that Delve does not reduce the costs of the spell being cast. This can be important to note in the instance of effects like Trinisphere. The old 3-Ball does not prevent your opponent from exiling six cards and tapping for black to cast their Gurmag Angler. This is because the spell still technically costs more than three mana overall. 3-Ball doesn't take into account how you're paying for the spell, but instead only looks at the cost to see if it satisfies its requirement of cost addition. Delve spells like Gurmag Angler don't meet the requirement because they already cost more than 3 mana. This can be relatively super important when it comes to another stalwart Convoke/Dredge Monstrosity Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis.

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Hogaak comes with its own true mess of rules conundrums, one of the most unusual of which is how this card interacts with the card Mycosynth Lattice. Lattice creates a strange situation in which everything in the game is now colorless. What this means is that for the purposes of Convoke + Delve you cannot actually pay the requisite costs for Hogaak while this card is in play. But wait, I can hear a question about Lattice's other clause about being able to spend mana as though it were any color! This would function if and only if the rules for Convoke+Delve weren't so deadly clear about how they function. Convoke's rulings specifically talks about tapping creatures that share a color to pay for a specific colored mana cost, and of course Lattice makes everything colorless so you can't tap a creature that shares a color at that point. The relevant rulings for Convoke are in Rule 702.50a of the MTG Comprehensive Rules.

702.50a Convoke is a static ability that functions while the spell with convoke is on the stack. “Convoke” means “For each colored mana in this spell’s total cost, you may tap an untapped creature of that color you control rather than pay that mana. For each generic mana in this spell’s total cost, you may tap an untapped creature you control rather than pay that mana.”

That's all we have this week on Graveyard related fun! Join us next week for more Legacy centric learning!

Community Legacy Update

There isn't much to report here at the moment since paper events are pretty much on the fritz. However, it is worth noting that this week (March 26th) there s a Magic Online Super Qualifier that is Legacy. It is worth noting this is a 40 tix / 400 Play Point / 400 QPs event to enter, so the event should be pretty stacked. We'll be talking about the details of that next week for sure. You can find out all the information about that in this article.

During these crazy times if there are any community efforts related to online play going on feel free to reach out and let me know!

Legacy Challenge 3/22

We had yet another Legacy Challenge this past week and this one had a fairly large amount of players. It makes a lot of sense considering that people are stuck indoors. Let's take a look at the Top 8!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Zenith Oko 1st Fishduggery
Aggro-Loam 2nd Jmd037
Mono-Red Prison 3rd Oklahomigan
RUG Delver 4th Jhk_
Eldrazi Stompy 5th GnorilGrande
Maverick 6th Achilles27
4C Control 7th Svaca
RUG Delver 8th LearnToLove6

This is an absolutely intriguing Top 8 here, and it definitely shows that Legacy still has to really coalesce after the banning of Underworld Breach. There's still a lot going on in the format and a lot of discussion to be had here about the state of it all.

However, at the end of the day, it was none other than fishduggery who brought down the house with BUG Zenith Oko!

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I really like how this list looks and I am ever amused at how much these lists are cutting down on Arcum's Astrolabe. It makes me wonder how long before the deck simply cuts the card altogether. I'm also a really big fan of the Liliana, the Last Hope in the sideboard. Congrats to fishduggery on their win!

In Second Place we've got an Aggro-Loam deck that's also packing a new Theros card that isn't Uro. Instead it's Dryad of the Ilysian Grove with a singleton Valakut in the list.

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This list seems pretty strong and pairing Dryad with Knight of the Reliquary definitely seems very powerful. I'm not surprised to see this new card taking off in certain shells. It is exceptionally powerful.

In Third Place we have Oklahomigan on Mono Red Prison!

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It's quite interesting to see this deck do so well, however, it is worth noting that there appears to be a lot less Astrolabe in the room of this Top 32, which we will discuss a little later here, which means that more decks are playing more nonbasics which Mono-Red can capitalize on easily. Combine this with being a reasonably strong Karn deck and that makes a lot of sense.

In Fourth Place we have RUG Delver!

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It is supremely interesting to see RUG Delver doing so well, but I am attributing a lot of that to the sheer strength of both Dreadhorde Arcanist and Oko, Thief of Crowns. Not only that, but just being able to have access to Lightning Bolt is proving very good right now outside of decks like BUG Delver that only have access to Decay/Trophy (which can be hit by Veil of Summer).

In Fifth Place we have Eldrazi Stompy!

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Again, I'm not surprised to see this deck up here. Eldrazi has gotten a bit of a boost on the back of Once Upon a Time and it is a powerful Chalice deck with a fast clock. It's linear, but it has a lot of tools to beat up on decks right now.

In Sixth Place we have Maverick!

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Again, this deck seems incredibly strong right now and I really think Once Upon a Time has had a really positive impact on this strategy. Congrats to Achilles27, who has really been pushing their skills with this deck!

In Seventh Place, we have Svaca on 4C Control!

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If you had a contest for "Greediest Manabase Ever" this would probably take home the top prize, but the takeaway here is that not only does this work well it seems but also the pilot consideration is necessary here, since Svaca is Tomas Mar, a player who is intimately familiar with these kinds of strategies.

Finally rounding out the Top 8 we have our good friend Rich Cali (learntolove6) on RUG Delver!

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Now, let's do a look at both the 2019 and 2020 cards in this event. I feel it is going to become more prudent to see what from 2019 is still impacting the format, so we'll be doing this in two separate tables. Note so that the 2019 table is not gigantic I'm cutting anything that isn't at least 4 copies.

Card Name Number of Copies
Oko, Thief of Crowns 34
Once Upon a Time 31
Plague Engineer 20
Veil of Summer 19
Force of Negation 17
Dreadhorde Arcanist 16
Brazen Borrower 11
Force of Vigor 9
Ice-Fang Coatl 9
Arcum's Astrolabe 8
Collector Ouphe 8
Blast Zone 6
Drown in the Loch 6
Field of the Dead 5
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 4
Karn, the Great Creator 4
Nurturing Peatland 4
Teferi, Time Raveler 4

2019 Cards

Card Name Number of Copies
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove 17
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 12
Thassa's Oracle 4
Cling to Dust 1
Kunoros, Hound of Athreos 1

2020 Cards

As we can see, the biggest influential card from 2019 is of course, Oko, Thief of Crowns, but it is followed pretty closely by Once Upon a Time. However, more often than not these two cards don't see mutual play, so that makes the statistics overall more interesting. What is even more interesting however is the exceptionally low amount of Arcum's Astrolabe at the Top tables of this event. There were a total of three decks playing Astrolabe, one of which was only playing one copy (the winner of the event). It's certainly super intriguing to see how the trajectory of this card has been in the format, where even two weeks ago was being called for a ban. It appears that many of these decks are capable of playing on color Oko and Uro and the like without the assistance of Astrolabe. Honestly, the accelerant of choice appears to be Mox Diamond.

Now, I don't think we are yet at a point where Oko might need to be banned, but it is certainly the card that is being pushed in a lot of these decks. It is most assuredly worth keeping an eye on however as we progress into further Legacy Challenge events.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend James Hsu has begun posting videos of his Grixis Delver leagues over on his YouTube Channel named "Past in James". It's worth checking out, so go do that here!
  • A great little primer on Dark Depths was posted to Reddit recently. Go check that out here!
  • Our good friends at The Eternal Glory podcast released a new episode talking about Post-Breach Legacy. It's a great episode (even if Bryant did butcher my last name)!
  • There was a highly controversial and interesting article about the Reserved List posted by Ben Bleiweiss on SCG. While I may not 1000% agree with his take on this, I like the creative approach to his solution and the fact that someone is still talking about this. Check that out here.

The Spice Corner

Our first Spice list of the week is a s cool 4C Midrange deck (that isn't playing Arcum's Astrolabe) with some cool cards like Garruk Wildspeaker!

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Oko + Emry + Painter?!

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This one I just have to label "Show and Ninja" for obvious reasons.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm personally taking a page out of my good friend Callum's book this week and jamming a little bit of the Primeval Titan + Dryad of the Ilysian Grove deck and it has been a real blast.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Please continue to join us next week as we continue our journey into the Legacy format!

As always, you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server as well as the MTGLegacy Discord Server and Subreddit.

Please stay safe everyone! Until next time!

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