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This Week in Legacy: The Rise of Zendikar - Part 2


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 going to be finishing off our look at Zendikar Rising and what it means for the Legacy format. In addition to that we have a glut of events to talk about, from two Challenges to a MTGO Legacy PTQ event to the NRG Legacy Trial that took place over the weekend as well. I also want to mention an interesting thread that came up on Twitter in the past week, and of course we have our Spice Corner.

Before we get too deep into things just a reminder that this week is ongoing PAX Online events held by Pastimes Events where you can gain access to a stocked Magic Online account for the duration of the event for only $25 entry into a prelim event. If you've ever been on the fence about trying formats like Legacy/Vintage and want a really easy way to gain access to those formats, consider trying this out, as it is a great way to get into playing the format!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Rise of Skyw-I Mean, Zendikar

We now have the full spoiler for Zendikar Rising, which means it is time to finish off our set review for Legacy! Let's dive right into some cards!

Agadeem's Awakening

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The biggest thing about this is the fact that it is an untapped black source for 3 life that can be played in a shell such as Oops! All Spells! This card allows a deck like this to continue to play no actual lands main deck that doesn't count for cards like Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer but can still be a land if need be. On the front face however, this card actually does something for this deck if it needs to cast it to return a combo piece, as often these kinds of decks are very mana heavy with rituals and the like. In addition to the usage in combo decks like this, this could actually also be playable in a deck like Death's Shadow, since it is an untapped black source that already pings for 3 life right off the bat, which is where the Shadow pilot ideally wants to be.

Ancient Greenwarden

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

really want to try this card out as a pet card in the Titanic Dryad shells, not going to lie. Being able to act as both Crucible of Worlds and Panharmonicon in a deck that has such fast mana and Green Sun's Zenith seems incredibly absurd with cards like Field of the Dead and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle + Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. This could be ultimately win more, but I definitely want to play around with it because it seems like a ton of fun.

Sea Gate Stormcaller

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is actually somewhat relatively interesting, and I think potentially playable in a metagame where we return back to traditional control shells like Grixis Control and the like (i.e. if cards like Veil of Summer were banned). The kicker ability on this is basically flavor text, and it does have a few downsides in that it doesn't have flash like Snapcaster Mage, but imagine getting to double up on cards like Thoughtseize or Brainstorm/Ponder. One great thing about this card is how it interacts with countermagic. If this resolves, soft countermagic like Daze is suddenly problematic in being able to deal with the instant or sorcery being cast, as it might only snag one copy of the spell and you are still accruing value in addition to a beater.

Scourge of the Skyclaves

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I saw some mild discussion about this one in some places in regards to using it in Death's Shadow based decks, but I don't actually see it, since it looks at both player's life totals and not just your own. Shadow decks are more often dinging themselves for life and not nickeling the opponent that much to make this worth it as a 2 mana threat that will often not be all that good. The fact that this also doesn't have evasion is also awkward.

Shadows's Verdict

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is interesting on the basis that it not only deals with Oko and Uro, but also deals with Oko and Uro in the graveyard at the same time. Five mana is steep however, and this is likely not playable, but the effect is unique and new.

Soaring Thought-Thief

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Oh hey, what do you know, Rogue tribal support! Between Thieves' Guild Enforcer and Bitterblossom and new payoffs like Zareth San, the Trickster there could legitimately be a Rogue deck in the format, especially with cards like Changeling Outcast which have proven to be good synergy with tribes like Ninjas. It would be really cool to see Rogues be a thing because the mechanics seem really strong.

Community Legacy Topic - What is Considered to be the Legacy Format?

Our good friend Nathan Golia of the Eternal Durdles podcast posted an interesting poll on Twitter regarding a question on what the "real" Legacy format is, and whether it is Paper or Magic Online. This thread provoked some interesting discussion on the differences between Magic Online and Paper Magic. Be sure to check out the thread here.

Below in the comments, what are your thoughts on this topic?

Legacy PTQ 9/12

This weekend had a PTQ event on Magic Online for Legacy. This was a Premier level event, and required 40 Qualification Points (QPs) to enter, so the overall competitive nature of this event was pretty high. Let's take a look at the Top 32 Metagame breakdown of the event.

Both RUG Delver and Snowko had a lot of representation in this event, with more people flocking to established strategies than normal and not as many one-off lists like we tend to see in Challenges. This says a lot about what Legacy players consider to be powerful strategies in the format, but also how popular those strategies are with players.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
The EPIC Storm 1st Bryant_Cook
Esper Vial 2nd Jtl005
Hogaak 3rd Otakkun
Hogaak 4th Treno
Snowko 5th Musasabi
Hogaak 6th HT991122
G/W Lands/Depths 7th Capriccioso
RUG Delver 8th Theo_Jung

There was a lot of Hogaak conversion into this Top 8, with three pilots making into the Top 8. We also had showings by both The EPIC Storm and Esper Vial, and at the end of it all it was none other than Bryant Cook who took down the event.

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Bryant is fully committed to beating all up on RUG Delver and Snow decks in his sideboard options here, boasting a full four copies of Carpet of Flowers, which can be a real beating in those matchups versus soft countermagic. Carpet in general is a really powerful card versus RUG Delver since they generally need lands in play to function especially now with Oko and every dual they play is an Island type dual. Furthermore we also see a main deck copy of Tendrils of Agony which can be fetched with Wishclaw Talisman.

In Second Place we have our good friend Jeff Lin (Jtl005) on Esper Vial.

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Esper Vial is a super cool deck and it's awesome to see Jeff do well with it, given that he essentially created the archetype as we know it today. This deck has been a great place to absorb newer printings, such as Barrin, Tolarian Archmage from the recent Core Set. As newer and more interesting interaction pieces are printed, I wouldn't be surprised to see more tutorable pieces work their way in.

In Third Place we have Hogaak, as well as in Fourth and Sixth, so let's look specifically at the Third Place list.

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As we have often seen with Hogaak, it flip-flops back and forth on whether Jund or BUG is the better version. At this point it seems that the color differences are just mainly personal play preference and the style of how each of these play. The Jund version like above can play a bit more controlling route in post board games by finding answers with Faithless Looting as opposed to the BUG versions with Hedron Crab, which are more explosive in nature.

In Fifth Place we have Snowko.

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This is mainly the BUG splash White variant, with no other splashes for things like Pyroblast or the like. The pile of removal that these Snow decks get to play is often pretty staggering between Decay, Swords to Plowshares, and Dead of Winter, not to mention having an Assassin's Trophy in the sideboard.

In Seventh Place we have G/W Lands/Depths Combo.

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This is pretty cool, as its sort of a hybrid Lands/Depths/Maverick type deck that gets to play certain cards like Thalia and Knight of the Reliquary, but also cards like Elvish Reclaimer. White also affords it options like Swords to Plowshares out of the sideboard.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have RUG Delver.

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There are still a few minute flex spots in RUG Delver at this point, and some configurations where a player might want Goyf and Hooting Mandrills, or just Mandrills. These minute decisions are some incredibly play style-oriented metagame thinking for sure, and is one of the finer points of RUG Delver deck construction.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event. As always we're only looking at cards with eight copies or more, with exceptions made for Companions.

Card Name Number of Copies
Oko, Thief of Crowns 51
Ice-Fang Coatl 41
Force of Negation 38
Arcum's Astrolabe 36
Veil of Summer 35
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 33
Dreadhorde Arcanist 28
Prismatic Vista 27
Plague Engineer 25
Force of Vigor 15
Once Upon a Time 14
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 12
Yorion, Sky Nomad 2

Well uh... Oko broke 50 copies, so there is that. We'll be talking about that later for sure.

Legacy Challenge 9/12

Our first Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Saturday Challenge, so let's dive right in and check out the Top 32 Metagame breakdown!

There was certainly quite a bit of RUG Delver in this event, but there was also a decent amount of Hogaak, which is a solid countermeasure to the RUG Delver menace. In fact, Hogaak tends to be one of RUG Delver's harder matchups since Hogaak can go exceptionally wide and also be very fast under pressure.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
G/B Depths 1st Alphablade
RUG Delver 2nd Oceansoul
Cloudpost 3rd Into_Play
Ninjas 4th Umeck
RUG Delver 5th Matyo84
Hogaak 6th Fuya
Hogaak 7th GodOfSlaughter
Omni-Tell 8th Tobimaru_Magic

This was an interesting Top 8, and again we see the countereffect of a deck like Hogaak on the format being played to try to counteract RUG Delver's dominance. At the end of it however, it was Depths Combo that took it all down.

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Rite of Consumption is simply the coolest and most hilarious way to kill your opponent with Marit Lage, by simply flinging it at the opponent's face.

In Second Place we have RUG Delver.

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There's a Life from the Loam in this list, which is frankly incredibly absurd with not just Wasteland, but also Fiery Islet as a draw engine and enabler for it.

In Third Place we have Cloudpost.

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Allosaurus Shepherd working its way into just non-Elves decks is pretty hilarious really, and really speaks to the power level of the card overall. Really the big hit here is making Crop Rotation uncounterable, as having it countered often really stinks.

In Fourth Place we have Ninjas.

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Ethereal Forager seems like a really cute and fun way to use the graveyard in this deck, as this is a deck that really quite often does not use its graveyard outside of the delve spells like Murderous Cut. I also like the Liliana of the Veil in the main as this deck does often draw a lot of cards and it's a good outlet for dealing with extra cards.

Since Fifth Place also had RUG Delver, let's skip to Sixth Place and look at the Hogaak list there.

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This is another Jund variant, but they're only on two copies of Faithless Looting, which is pretty wild. They are however on four copies of Satyr Wayfinder which seems pretty cool.

Since Seventh Place was also Gaak, let's round out the Top 8 with Omni-Tell.

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We get to see Sublime Epiphany show up here as a Wish target, which is super sweet. Also, three main deck Veil of Summer here.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Oko, Thief of Crowns 40
Force of Negation 33
Dreadhorde Arcanist 28
Arcum's Astrolabe 25
Ice-Fang Coatl 25
Force of Vigor 24
Veil of Summer 23
Prismatic Vista 18
Plague Engineer 15
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 14
Once Upon a Time 10
Changeling Outcast 8
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 8
Ingenious Infiltrator 8
Muxus, Goblin Grandee 8
Retrofitter Foundry 8

Oko again topped the charts in this event, at a whopping 40 copies. All the usual suspects showed up as well, along with some others not usually seen here due to numbers such as the Ninjas decks and Muxus variants.

Legacy Challenge 9/13

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was our normal Sunday during the day Challenge event, so let's take look at the Top 32 Metagame breakdown!

As if to counteract the first event of the weekend, the Snowko decks jumped back up over RUG Delver. I think as well it often speaks to the differences in regional playability between the two Challenge events and what people from various areas are inclined to play. The early time frame of the Saturday event often means less US players which may be inclined to play different types of strategies than what the European and Asian players might be playing. It is certainly an interesting dynamic.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
The EPIC Storm 1st Bryant_Cook
Maverick 2nd Achillies27
Snowko 3rd Do0mSwitch
Elves 4th Testacular
Ninjas 5th MomsBasementStreams
RUG Delver 6th SilviaWataru
Snowko 7th Moatzu
Karn Echo 8th LeMasters

In a stunning move, Bryant Cook takes down two events in one weekend with the exact same list.

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Bryant's skill with the deck shows a lot about how being an archetype specialist can promote positive results and give one greater insight into playing a particular type of deck. Bryant certainly shows that here in spades with his double victory.

In Second Place we have Maverick.

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This list is super sweet, and I have much more to say about Kaya, Orzhov Usurper later on, but it is definitely a great card for Maverick decks.

In Third Place we have Snowko.

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There's a light splash for red here for Pyroblast, which is very strong when trying to deal with an opponent's Oko, among other things.

In Fourth Place we have Elves.

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I am sort of surprised to see no Archon of Valor's Reach in the 75, given how powerful that card is at locking down certain strategies. Double Craterhoof Behemoth must be where it's at!

In Fifth Place we have Ninjas.

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The biggest draw to the BUG variants is playing Oko, Decay, and Trophy. The downside of this is being a little more exposed to Wasteland than the straight U/B variants of Ninjas are.

In Sixth Place we have RUG Delver.

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I mentioned this last time we saw this list, but I love Mind Harness to death. So sweet seeing this as a sideboard option here.

Since Seventh Place had Snowko, let's move down to the bottom of the Top 8 with Karn Echo.

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I really like Minamo, School at Water's Edge as a great way of untapping cards like Emry, Lurker of the Loch to get double activations out of the card.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Oko, Thief of Crowns 29
Force of Negation 26
Ice-Fang Coatl 25
Arcum's Astrolabe 24
Veil of Summer 22
Plague Engineer 21
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 21
Dreadhorde Arcanist 20
Prismatic Vista 20
Karn, the Great Creator 16
Once Upon a Time 9
Teferi, Time Raveler 8

Not quite as many Oko's as the other two events this past weekend, but still quite a few. It's certainly interesting to watch the trajectory of this card.

NRG Series Legacy Trial 9/13

This past weekend was the NRG Series Legacy Trial, held via MTGMelee. There were 68 players in this event, so we can see the entire Metagame breakdown below.

As has been the case for a lot of events lately, RUG Delver dominated the metagame share overwhelmingly. Snowko and Elves came in at second and third most represented respectively, but both of those decks combined didn't even approach the level of RUG Delver in this metagame.

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

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Karn Echo 1st Greg Dyer
RUG Delver 2nd Will Krueger
Snowko 3rd-4th Justin Brickman
Snowko 3rd-4th Jim Dudek
Maverick 5th-8th Connery Knox
G/B Depths 5th-8th Louis Kaplan
Omni-Tell 5th-8th Michael Ardoin
Grixis Delver 5th-8th Keegan Hopper

Statistically, RUG Delver didn't convert in great numbers into the Top 8 of the event, only putting a single pilot into the Top 8. There was a decent mix of fair and unfair in this Top 8 however. Let's take a look at the two finalists with Karn Echo and RUG Delver.

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This is quite frankly a really powerful deck and still one of my picks for one of the most broken things to be doing in Legacy right now. Very strong stuff indeed.

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This list is leaning more on the mirror with the Mandrills and no copies of Goyf at all, and sideboard Submerge suggests that they were expecting decks like Depths and Hogaak (which can often be incredibly rough for RUG Delver to fight against).

The rest of the Top 4 had Snowko decks, so let's take a look at Justin Brickman's list.

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This version of Snowko is splashing red for blast effects, and possibly might be better positioned against RUG Delver since the blast effects can be used to answer opposing Oko. Also, there's a Shark Typhoon.

Moving down the Top 8 we have Maverick.

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I am loving seeing Kaya, Orzhov Usurper in these kinds of lists. Not only does it deal with some problematic cards like Delver of Secrets, but it also deals with Uro and the like in the graveyard. The rest of this list is super sweet as well, especially with a singleton Kaya, Ghost Assassin in the sideboard.

Next we have G/B Depths.

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This is a slower variant much like other lists that have done well in the format as of late. I feel like the card advantage provided by Dark Confidant is so incredibly necessary that we may not see the return of full-on Turbo variants, and continue to see more variants like this.

Next we have Omni-Tell.

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This list isn't as creature heavy as the other variant we saw this weekend do well, but it is definitely a strong list.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Grixis Delver.

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Not often that we get to see Grixis Delver do well, as Veil of Summer is rough against cards like Thoughtseize, but if I have learned anything it's that the shell of Delver/Brainstorm/Force of Will is pretty strong.

This seemed like a pretty cool event, and NRG is super awesome for continuing to do these kinds of trial events.

Ban Watch

We had three events on Magic Online this past weekend so we've included those in our chart on the Legacy Bannable cards. Once Zendikar Rising arrives, we'll be resetting the timeline so that we can change up the cards as well as accrue data again. Some people have requested to track cards like Delver of Secrets, which would be interesting. I'm also going to be tracking cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist. If you have any further suggestions on how best we can represent this data, please reach out and let me know!

There's a lot going on here after this weekend, the biggest of which is the rise of Astrolabe again after having been way down for a while. It is worth noting that the chart is combining both events on 9/12 (the PTQ and the Challenge), so individually those numbers in those events were not incredibly high (25 in the Challenge, 36 in the PTQ) but it's still interesting to see the effect. The major concerning curve of trajectory is Oko, which has continually trended upwards in decks both Delver and non-Delver alike (and many times seeing play in far more non-Delver strategies than Delver). Oko is potentially a format concern at this point due to both its ubiquity and the play patterns the card creates.

We will be having another Legacy Round Table soon, in order to get a better perspective on the format and these cards.

Around the Web

  • 90sMTG has you covered on testing new Zendikar Rising cards, so check out their latest VOD here.
  • Everyday Eternal had special guest Tom De Decker on to talk about 4Seasons Tournament Series, which you can check out here.
  • Valakut + Natural Order + GSZ!
  • GP Champ Daniel Goetschel wrote down some great thoughts on RUG Delver recently, which you can check out here.
  • The Eternal Glory Podcast put out a great episode on build-around cards, which you can check out here.
  • The Pendrell Vale website put out a solid article on the financial aspect of buying into Lands, which you can check out here.
  • Speaking of RUG Delver, MTGO End Boss JPA93 put out a great article on the deck over on Hareruya.

The Spice Corner

Good old fashioned Deadguy Ale!

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Certainly a unique take on Steel Stompy.

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I can never pass up an opportunity to present Kavu Predator.deck.

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Simic Delver w/ Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse?!

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm still on the Ninja train this week. Deck is incredibly fun and interesting, but once Zendikar Rising drops I might go look at some other things.

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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 on 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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