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This Week in Legacy: The Problem with Oko


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're back on the topic of the Legacy Banned and Restricted list and notably the topic of one Oko, Thief of Crowns. In addition to that, we've got three events to discuss this week with last week's Legacy Super Qualifier event as well the two Challenges from this past weekend.

Without further ado, let's dive right into the thick of it!

What's Wrong About Oko?

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The hot button topic of Bannings in Legacy arose again this past week and weekend, prompted mainly by the events that we're going to be talking about this week further on down. This is certainly a hot topic because of the fact that there are a lot of different things that people seem to want to happen in the format, and a fair amount of them aren't exactly the same thing. Different cards get to different people, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what to do to fix the format.

While we thought that maybe because of the events in the past weekend that Wizards may take some action this past Monday, those actions didn't occur at all, and there is minor speculation that there could be a change next week as well. The very random nature of this is definitely pushed by the fact that Wizards chose to ban Fall from Favor in the Pauper format seemingly because they wanted people to participate in that format's Super Qualifier. For sure, this whole "ad hoc" ban announcement thing keeps everyone on their toes and really does make me wish we had scheduled BnR's back. I do not feel that the way things are done now instills much confidence in managing a format, because it's clear that things can just be banned at the drop of a hat, and when these kinds of bans don't happen to a format, then people start to get upset. However, despite all of this, there's certainly one common factor that a lot of players seem to overtly agree on when it comes to this topic of banning cards in Legacy.

Oko has gotta go.

The effect that Oko has had on Legacy is now really being felt by the rest of the metagame I feel. The deeper we go into this current metagame the more we find that Oko is truly a format warping card. The very presence of the card has shifted the format ever so slightly, and in what many players believe is not a good way. Oko invalidates creatures and artifacts, making it so that players have to build with Oko in mind always, selecting cards that don't fall to the lord of the Elk. The biggest thing that I feel this invalidates is the presence of Chalice of the Void in the current format. Many of the Chalice decks that exist are either decks that try to go under Oko by slamming powerful haymakers (Karn, Urza, Hullbreacher) or are trying to play an aggressive game (Mono Red Prison). In general though it does not seem like the presence of Chalice however is doing much for these decks as they've dropped heavily in metagame share over time. While these decks can do well (and some are, with pilots that know the deck very well), the overall nature of Chalice decks is not a good outlook if your effect meant to lock an opponent a bit and then turn the corner before they can unlock their cantrips is negated by being turned into a 3/3 Elk.

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Now there's a question to be had as to whether it is a good thing to have Chalice return in a powerful way, and I think genuinely that it is fine for Legacy. Legacy is often a format defined by one-two CMC cards, and having a card that punishes that kind of deckbuilding is a good checks and balances on the format, and quite often these decks are non Blue as well, such as Eldrazi. Having a viable strategy like that running counter to the blue decks of the format makes the format more interesting in my opinion.

Having Chalice slightly unlocked means that it is easier to combat cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist out of Delver. Oko currently gives Delver a really strong out against Game One Chalice decks and makes sideboarding even easier since they never need to board out Oko to deal with anything. This is powerful enough that it even allows Delver decks to run virtually no other green cards except for Oko and still be powerful. And this doesn't even cover the other types of permanents that Oko negates. Cards like Knight of the Reliquary, Aether Vial, and Equipment are also negated, depowering decks like Maverick, Death and Taxes, etc. While D&T can perform well in this environment (and has done so) the average D&T matchup versus Oko is not very pleasant. Skyclave Apparition helped to a great extent, but the play patterns of playing versus Oko is still not very interesting or fun.

Oko's synergy as well with Arcum's Astrolabe is also something that cannot be overstated, as it allows the card access to free creatures with which to protect itself by making Astrolabe into a creature.

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There's a lot to unpack still because while we are discussing the potential of banning Oko, there is the subject of metagame data to address. As I've been a part of helping organize and gather data from Challenges, much of the current data suggests that neither Snowko or RUG Delver is really breaking the format in half in raw win rate numbers. In fact, over the past two months, the cumulative data on RUG Delver shows that it has a rougly 52-53% win rate and is nowhere near the sort of win rates that Wizards has classically attributed to bannable decks/cards. However, it is important to keep in mind that while the data suggests that these decks and the format itself are fine, this is only one factor I feel to presenting an argument to ban something, and the banning of Oko comes mainly from the warping play patterns the card provides and the play experience being wholly uninteresting and unfun to play against. Now, something not being "fun" is a hard sell, because we can argue that there are a lot of things that are present in Legacy that aren't fun. It's not fun to play against Turn One Griselbrand sometimes, or to play against even Chalice of the Void for some. But Oko twists that on its head a bit and makes games feel very samey and takes away a bit of the so-called counterplay of the format that people greatly have enjoyed it for in the past.

If we do see a banning, it may not be until after Kaldheim is released. While I wholly doubt that anything from Kaldheim is broken in Legacy (as we discussed in my set review), they may be waiting to see if anything does change first. However, any ban that doesn't immediately start with Oko, Thief of Crowns is going to be wrong. Oko should go, and only Oko, I feel. Then we can begin to get a better idea of the other cards that might be problematic and how they interact without Oko to act as a powerful catch-all threat/win condition/answer card.

Until this happens though, it's an Elk-eats-Elk world out there, and there are ways to adjust for this for sure, but I definitely would prefer to see action taken sooner than later.

Legacy Super Qualifier 1/21

Last week we had a bonafide Legacy PTQ level event, with the winner of the event getting to qualify for one of the Arena Kaldheim Championship events. Thanks to the efforts of the Legacy Data Collection team, we know we had 253 players in this event, which was a really solid turnout!

Let's take a look at the charts.

The first thing to note is wow what a lot of RUG Delver. FORTY SEVEN copies of the deck overall in the event, with the next deck Snowko trailing at thirty copies. That makes for about 141 Oko in just the RUG Delver lists (provided all of them are playing three copies which is standard). In addition, RUG Delver had a pretty solid showing in the event as well, boasting an approximated 53% win rate overall. This is a fairly typical number for quote-unquote best decks in a format, and we're definitely seeing that and how popular the deck is.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Sneak and Show 1st bennybo
RUG Delver 2nd Gul_Dukat
Oops! All Spells 3rd Archer.
Elves 4th fluffy21
Yorion Snow Miracles 5th reisyasu
Hogaak 6th billsive
RUG Delver 7th jankyb
Snow Miracles 8th Lavaridge

Definitely an interesting Top 8, and as I understand it the finals match was split between the two finalists, so we'll just be looking at both their lists. Other than that it is worth noting that between this event and the two Challenge events, Oops Top 8'ed all three events this past week. Insane to think about, but here we are.

Let's take a look at the two finalists, bennybo and Gul_Dukat.

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Clean, lean, and mean. Sneak and Show continues to put up the results in this current metagame, and it's easy to see how powerful this strategy is. The two Progenitus in the sideboard makes for a super sweet Show and Tell target for sure.

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Daniel's list on the other hand is also fairly clean and lean as well. Instead of going the route that we have seen with this deck by playing no green creatures, Daniel opted for Hooting Mandrills, which is a super solid choice.

Also in the Top 8 as noted we had Oops in THIRD place!

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This deck's continued performance in these events and the powerful deckbuilding involved have really shown how good this deck is right now. If you're looking for a great fast combo deck in Legacy, this is definitely one to put your eyes on. Four main deck Veil of Summer is super real too, I can definitely see the appeal of wanting it here.

Further, into the Top 8, we had a showing by a Yorion Snow Miracles variant.

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There's a lot going on here for sure, as we have a vast amount of card draw between the usual cantrips, Astrolabe, and even Abundant Growth. This is really important in these Yorion Snow variants to churn through the deck to gain access to reactive spells and threats. Four Terminus is also one heck of a statement.

Legacy Challenge 1/23

We did indeed have two regular Challenge events this past weekend, the first of which was the Saturday morning event. This event had 71 players, so let's dive right into the breakdown.

Again, quite a bit of RUG Delver, and not only that it's win rate in this event was a little higher than in the PTQ event. However, smaller sample sizes have to take that into account. That being said, this event did have a super interesting Top 8, which we'll get into now.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Hogaak 1st Capriccioso
Blue Zenith/Natural Order 2nd LionhearT505
RUG Delver 3rd MarySue
Stryfo Pile 4th Stryfo
Death's Shadow 5th TrueHero
Death and Taxes 6th Yoshiwata
Mono Red Prison 7th Basuta
Oops! All Spells 8th aManatease

Oh yeah! Hogaak, Stryfo Pile, Death's Shadow, MONO RED PRISON?!! Yeah this was a super neat Top 8. At the end of it all, it was indeed Hogaak that took it all down!

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This is a great list. I personally really enjoy the BUG variants myself. They're very interesting and powerfully explosive.

The other finalist in this event was a cool Snow/Natural Order deck.

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I really enjoy the addition of Vraska, Golgari Queen in this list. Seems super neat and intriguing. The fact that this can play a fair game plus a powerful combo is pretty sweet though.

Also in the Top 8 we had the creator of Stryfo Pile, Stryfo, on his signature deck.

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Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is SUPER sweet inclusion here in this deck. I really always enjoy looking at Stryfo's deck, there's always some really cool new spice in it that makes me want to dig right into it. The current versions definitely don't disappoint.

Further, into the Top 8 we had Death's Shadow.

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Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse is a super neat inclusion here. BUG gives this deck some options for sure, like the typical Oko, but also stuff like Sylvan Library (which plays super well with the Shadow game).

Finally, at the bottom of the Top 8, we have Mono Red Prison/Aggro.

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Fireflux Squad was another card that wasn't quite on my list, but it definitely seems to have crept up and into this deck. Very intriguing card for sure.

Legacy Challenge 1/24

Our second Challenge event of the weekend had 88 players in it, and this was the mid-afternoon Sunday event. Let's dive right into the breakdown.

We have again another event where RUG Delver was nearly a little over 20% of the metagame. Add in the U/R Delver players as well and that number moves up a bit more closer to 24%. Definitely intrigued by the amount of popularity of the deck. I wonder really if the All Access Token does have anything to do with it.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Reanimator 1st pokerswizard
RUG Delver 2nd Gul_Dukat
The EPIC Storm 3rd acidicslime44
Mono Red Prison 4th Basuta
Snow Miracles 5th Oddball
Oops! All Spells 6th Patxi
Elves 7th Chefen
Snow Day 8th joker10289

This is definitely an interesting Top 8, with a seemingly decent representation of various archetypes. I'm aware of the fact that the finals were split here as well and that Gul_Dukat's RUG Delver list didn't change at all from the Thursday Super Qualifier event, so we'll only be covering the recorded "First Place" list.

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Reanimator! Again we see the influences that decks like Tin Fins have had on this strategy by implementing cards like Children of Korlis and Tendrils of Agony as another way of winning the game once you've reanimated Griselbrand. This has pretty much become fairly stock to BR Reanimator at this point.

Also in the Top 8 we have The EPIC Storm.

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The Extract in the sideboard here is super interesting. Seems like a really neat card for sure for when you're trying to remove a specific win condition from your opponent's library.

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 we have Elves!

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This is a fairly straightforward list, leaning harder on the Nettle Sentinel + Allosaurus Shepherd and the combo rather than the grindier Elvish Reclaimer variants that this deck has splintered into. I always find these things super interesting when decks fracture into sub-variants, for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by a neat Delver/Arclight Phoenix deck.

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I find it super amusing how Dreadhorde Arcanist can flash back Dark Ritual and now I can't even stop thinking about it. It's not good at all in this deck, but it can do it. Highly amusing for sure. Phoenix seems pretty strong when backed up by the power of other stuff like Arcanist and Delver. Also, Sprite Dragon! That card is so very interesting and powerful.

Around the Web

  • 90sMTG continues the hits with the finals of their weekly tournament! Check that out here for some Jeskai Mentor vs D&T action.
  • Everyday Eternal has a new episode featuring Kai Sawatari. Check that out here.
  • Phil Gallagher sits down with EronRelentless to cover their Top 8 run into winning the Showcase Challenge. Check that out here.
  • The Legacy Pit Discord is opening up their walls for people to host webcam Legacy games! Join their server here.

The Spice Corner

Emry, Mentor, Ethereal Forager!! Looks spicy!

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Nivmagus Elemental!

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Mesmeric Orb is super spicy here.

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Splinter Twin + Hullbreacher Combo. Name a better duo.

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CHEEEEEEERIOOOOOS!

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What I'm Playing This Week

I came up with an extension of the Wilderness Reclamation deck I built a while back, implementing technology from the Hullbreacher Snow decks.

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Wrapping Up

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

As always you can reach me at Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and subreddit.

Until next time!



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