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This Week in Legacy: The Veil of Winter

Howdy folks and welcome to my first entry of This Week in Legacy! It's an absolute pleasure to be taking care of this column. As some of you may or may not know, This Week in Legacy was actually one of my big inspirations to get into writing about Magic: The Gathering formats in the first place. I owe a lot of this to Sean Brown, who originally curated this article series. Sean was a huge inspiration to me and I am happy to do my best to continue providing some of the best Legacy content around!

One of the big things we're going to talk about this week is a lot of upcoming Legacy events and how the Legacy community is swarming to help develop larger events for Legacy players in a world without StarCityGames providing Legacy on the SCG Tour. We're also going to run down the finals of the Legacy Premier League which recently finished, and we're also going to talk about the Artifact in the room - aka Arcum's Astrolabe - and the effect that it is having on Legacy in addition to a few other cards that are showing up as well.

In addition, we're not going to ever forget the Spice Corner, a mainstay staple that was a part of Sean's time on this series. If you run into a list you think would be great to have there, please feel free to send it my way! We're going to have that and more! So let's dive right in!

Legacy - A Community United

While we lost Legacy on the SCG Tour for 2020, the Legacy Community overall has yet to let such a blow be a death knell and instead have galvanized as a community to organize and develop Legacy events for players to get involved with from a competitive standpoint, in addition to event organizers like Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy who are promoting local Legacy events that involve playtest cards to get people interested in the format.

There is a lot coming up this year, and while there's a bit of travel involved, it's all going to be pretty awesome events. Let's take a look at the brief calendar.

Event Name Event Date
The Portal Comics and Gaming Legacy 1K 1/11/2020
Nerd Merch Co. Legacy 2K 1/12/2020
Nerd Rage Gaming Legacy 5K - Chicagoland 1/12/2020
AZ Legacy - Play or Draw (50 player cap) 1/25/2020
Leaving a Legacy Open 6 in Acton, MA 2/1/2020
AZ Legacy - Phoenix Gaming Lounge (50 player cap) 3/14/2020
Missouri MTG 20k – St. Louis, MO – Cap (200) 3/21/2020
Nerd Rage Gaming - Pioneer/Modern/Legacy Team Event 3/21/2020
AZ Legacy - Connected Gaming (50 player cap) 4/26/2020
F2F Games - Toronto Legacy Open 5/3/2020
SCG Con Legacy Event (No Details yet) 6/11/2020 - 6/14/2020
Missouri MTG 40k - TBD (No Details yet) 10/2020

This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of this year and how many Legacy community members will be involved in developing strong Legacy events! One of the biggest of these is Jeremy of MissouriMTG, who actually opted out of retirement from running events in response to the SCG Tour announcement to start piecing together large 10k and 40k Legacy events for next year!

The first big event, however, will be the Leaving a Legacy Open in Acton, MA. Hosted by the podcast Leaving a Legacy, this event is the sixth such Open that the hosts Jerry Mee and Pat Euglow have hosted, and I'm looking forward to covering this event here on this article series! In addition to the main event, they're also running a Legacy Unchained side event (i.e. Legacy with a less restricted banned list which was the focus of a series earlier this year through MinMaxBlog).

Rest assured, the Legacy community is definitely stepping up to make more Legacy happen this next year. Kudos to everyone and I will do my best to report on events as they happen and are announced. If there's an event you think I should know about (because quite frankly I'm not omniscient), please drop me a line and let me know about it!

Arcum's Astrolabe and the Effect on Legacy

As we all know by now, one of the aftereffects of the ban of Wrenn and Six in Legacy was the swing towards the use of Arcum's Astrolabe and Snow-Covered Basic Lands to enable decks to utilize splash colors while being very Basic Land heavy to get around Wasteland effects. We saw this to great effect at MagicFest Bologna being piloted to a win by Marc Eric Vogt, where shells containing five Snow-Covered Basics (mostly Islands) were able to splash green for cards such as Oko, Thief of Crowns and Veil of Summer, but also notably being able to easily splash red for Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast effects.

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It's no surprise that Astrolabe is a powerful card. It enables homogenization of mana colors, allowing access to every color while also allowing for decks to play around Wasteland. Does this sound familiar at all?

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The parallels are astounding as to why we are now wondering whether or not Arcum's Astrolabe is a bannable card in Legacy. While the card doesn't have the ultimate "game-winning" potential that Deathrite Shaman and Wrenn and Six had, the fact that it also cantrips and replaces itself, while also having stunningly good synergy with cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns certainly has a lot of players seeing the writing on the wall. Wizards allowed Wrenn and Six to exist in Legacy for a much shorter time than Deathrite Shaman was allowed to exist, and things moved very quickly positioning RUG Delver as the best deck in the format. Partially this is because Wrenn and Six interacted favorably with Delver of Secrets by allowing the deck to operate on the axis of utilizing Wasteland and fetch lands, and this was quickly identified.

Astrolabe I believe will take a little bit longer to locate the shell that best plays Astrolabe, Veil, Oko, and Pyroblast, but it is coming. The sheer fact alone that in order for UWx decks to be competitive means you have to run Astrolabe, Veil, and Oko at the bare minimum is a very concerning trend of 2019 Magic design where deckbuilding constraints become centered more around automatically including specific busted cards because it's basically required to do so rather than attempt to make interesting deckbuilding decisions. I do expect that at some point we could very well see an Astrolabe ban in Legacy sooner rather than later. Some have cited that one of the big things that Astrolabe possibly does is make the format "cheaper" to enter by the virtue of playing Snow-Covered Basic heavy decks and not having to play as many duals, but I actually don't see this. The Bant Miracles/4C Miracles Snow variants that have become the defacto standard of the deck seem to be actually more expensive since they're required to run at least one Tundra, one Tropical Island, and a Volcanic Island in the sideboard to have to be able to account for situations when Arcum's Astrolabe is either shut off or not on the battlefield in addition to the cost of Oko, Thief of Crowns which continues to increase despite being banned in Standard, Pioneer, and Brawl (thanks to how popular the card is in Modern). The deck seems to be more expensive than the days where variants could be bought into that played a single Tundra and Back to Basics (which seems fairly awkward right now in a format where a lot of basics are seeing play but is a good hedge against decks like Eldrazi Post, etc.) and were fairly reasonably competitive.

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One other interesting side effect of Astrolabe is the fact that it has allowed for differentiation of the types of shells it is seeing play in, such as the aforementioned 4C Miracles builds but also in more midrange style decks in BUG Zenith Oko, which does in a sense promote some amount of diversity but at the same time are decks that are all Blue/Green based with an appropriate splash color or colors. While on the surface it may seem like this is a diverse metagame, the fact that most of these decks are now built around a subset of 2019 era cards is a little frightening and Astrolabe helps tie these together.

Outside of Astrolabe, the other question is whether or not cards like Veil of Summer and Oko, Thief of Crowns are a problem for the format. My personal feelings on this right now are it remains to be seen what these cards would do without Astrolabe around to enable them easily. While Oko has proven to be one of the most egregious Planeswalkers ever printed (a design mistake of epic proportions), I'm not sure how problematic the card ends up being in Legacy without a ready-made mana rock to synergize with it in addition to having mana that very easily casts the card without much issue while also providing protection in the form of Veil of Summer. Veil on the other hand, is an intriguing dilemma and overall an insanely powerful card. It has often been compared to Cryptic Command in regards to drawing and countering things, and it's not hard to see why. What tends to put Veil over the top for me is that it draws a card, and that alone is an issue with the card. Veil ultimately troubles me a little more than Oko does since it is mostly free in being able to splash green for it without much downside, in addition to the fact that it has made cards like Flusterstorm worse and overall less interactive.

Finally, there is something to consider about Legacy being the Brainstorm/Wasteland format. Someone posted a question as to why Astrolabe is concerning (because they didn't really play Legacy and were curious) and when I explained about making colors not matter and Wasteland not matter, their response was "Well, does that matter really? Maybe the format is changing." It was a good response and I feel as if they're most likely right, but as a long-time Legacy player, the concept of format identity does matter a lot. Legacy has cemented itself as the format where you can cast 4x Brainstorm (and no matter what people's thoughts and feelings on the card are, it's probably never going away) but also a format where Wasteland is supposed to be a limiter and a cost to going deep on dual lands in the format. The question becomes whether Legacy is moving past that and evolving into a format that Wasteland becomes relatively unplayable in, and is that a good thing or not? Change itself isn't inherently good or bad, and I do think it's a positive for formats to evolve and grow. Formats that don't become rather stagnant and that is not a good thing either, but is evolving outside of what has been a traditional identity for the format a good thing?

Regardless of what happens, the precedent for 2019's era of printings has me a little scared for what is to come in 2020. With the intentional powering up of Standard sets to the point of power level like we saw with Throne of Eldraine, we can potentially expect more cards like Oko, more cards like Veil, more like Mystic Sanctuary and Astrolabe that have the possibility to impact the format greatly. The big win for Wizards here is that it makes people pay great attention to spoiler seasons, as now we have to see if there is anything busted for the format for every set.

Legacy Premier League Finals - Javier Dominguez vs Julian Knab

This past few weeks saw the end of the Legacy Premier League, a series hosted by Julian Knab and Anuraag Das. The finals of this series saw Javier Dominguez facing off against Julian himself in a grudge match with three decks each! This series is very cool and a great idea to showcase Legacy to the community much in the way that Vintage Super League does for that format. You can see the finals VOD and all the rest of the LPL over on Julian's website.

For the finals both players submitted three decklists with the intent of each player playing a deck until that deck loses and is knocked out in two separate brackets, so let's take a look at what each player submitted.

Julian Knab

Julian opted for some decks traditionally in his wheelhouse (i.e. Maverick) and also decided on at least one strong combo deck in Sneak & Show. One solid thing to note in the BUG Snowko list is the presence of Bitterblossom, a card that has gained a lot of traction over the past few weeks since the banning of Wrenn and Six due to the fact of how good it is to play with Oko, Thief of Crowns and how good it is against Oko as well. Being able to make 3/3s every turn with Oko in play is very strong, and being a permanent that also can't be hit by Oko is also very strong.

Javier Dominguez

On the opposite end of the spectrum, MPL member Javier Dominguez went full on BUG in all three of his lists, with the only combo inclined list being Crab Hogaak. While there's a marked difference between his BUG Control list and the BUG Zenith Oko list (that is similar to the list that made the finals of MagicFest Bologna), there's still a lot of overlap here in regards to manabase and threats. The Hogaak list is really interesting however, given that he chose to play a single Once Upon a Time in the list.

How Things All Went Down

Things kicked off with a bang in this event as both players brought their A Game in Match One with BUG Control vs Maverick. This matchup saw the power of Bitterblossom and Oko, Thief of Crowns as Javier assembles both. Both players move the game back and forth, going into three games in the match. However Julian takes things down and slams home a win in Game 3 off some powerful creatures.

Match Two continues as Javier reaches for BUG Zenith Oko to combat the Maverick menace. However it does not appear to be enough as Julian is able to saw through two solid games of creatures and powerful equipment to take the match.

Match Three sees Javier reach for the Crab Hogaak deck to try to defeat Maverick. In two games Javier shows the power of Hogaak and is able to develop a win in Game One through several Scavenging Ooze activations and Game Two goes wide with Javier presenting a powerful board state of creatures. He takes the match and they move to Match Four.

Match Four with Maverick knocked out, Julian moves onto Sneak and Show. He takes Game One with a stellar Sneak Attack into both Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. However Javier takes Game Two in stunning fashion as Hedron Crab shines. Julian is able to steal Gam Three and wins the first set of matches.

The bracket resets for the second set of matches, with Match One being Hogaak vs Maverick. Hogaak makes it through one game, but Javier is put on the backburner in both post-board games to lose the match.

Match Two of the second bracket has Javier bringing BUG Zenith Oko. Both players trade Games One and Two, with Game Three on the line for deciding the match. However, Julian is able to take down the match with a powerful play of a Green Sun's Zenith into Qasali Pridemage to push through the final amount of damage.

Match Three has Javier on BUG Control vs Maverick. Both players again trade Games One and Two, again with Game Three making the final decision of the match and the overall series. Javier is able to establish control and take the match.

Match Four has Julian bringing out BUG Snowko vs the BUG Control deck. Julian manages to steal Game One and Javier takes Game Two. However through a lot of counterplay in Game Three Julian is able to steal the Match and the overall series.

Congrats to Julian on winning this season's Legacy Premier League! Be sure to go check out the VODs and watch some sweet Legacy with some awesome commentary!

Eternal Weekend Europe 2019 - Legacy

We had two weeks back the Eternal Weekend Europe event held by Magic Bazaar, which included a Legacy Championships event, so let's take a look at the Top 8 of this event!

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Grixis Delver 1st Hans Jacob Goddik
Opposition Oko 2nd Gael Bailly Maitre
Grixis Delver 3rd Maximilan Lorenz
TES 4th Rodrigo Togores
4C Snow Control 5th Tomas Mar
UR Delver 6th Duncan Keyzer
4C Miracles 7th Johannes Gutbrod
BUG Zenith Oko 8th Alex Samaniego

This sounded like an interesting event with around roughly 220 players battling it out. At the end of the day it was the master of Legacy himself, Hans Jacob Goddik who took things down. Hans is no stranger to taking down Legacy Champs events as he took down Eternal Weekend US 2017's event on BUG Delver. He stuck to his guns on Delver again this time, playing Grixis Delver!

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I really really dig the Bedlam Reveler tech in this list, as it is often just a walking Ancestral Recall for RR in this sort of list. Dreadhorde Arcanist also continues to prove how stellar of a threat it is, even in a world dominated by the Oko menace. Congrats to Hans on his finish!

In second place of the event we had a super spicy list in the form of Opposition Oko!

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Opposition is a very powerful card, and this decklist is essentially a midrangey type of deck that utilizes it with small creatures like Dryad Arbor and Noble Hierarch/Gilded Goose to maximize its ability to provide mana denial while also having explosive finishes via Natural Order into cards such as Craterhoof Behemoth and Archon of Valor's Reach. Solid list for a solid finish!

Also in the Top 4 we have the inclusion of the newest variant of The Epic Storm (TES), being called TES 8.5 by the TES website/Bryant Cook. The pilot of this list was Rodrigo Togores.

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One of the things that separates TES from a deck like Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT) is that TES typically relies on cards like Rite of Flame and Burning Wish over cards like Cabal Ritual. The newer version also utilizes the new Throne of Eldraine card Wishclaw Talisman as well as Modern Horizons' Echo of Eons along with a lot of zero drop mana sources (Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox) and also four main deck Veil of Summer over Thoughtseize in order to force through the kill. It's an intriguing version and I'll be curious to see where this goes from here.

Also in the Top 8 we had a showing of the 4C Miracles build, piloted by Johannes Gutbrod.

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This deck is slowly coalescing to the appropriate build as we have discussed before that decks in this vein are being tuned and tuned until they will reach the most optimal build. Having access to all the colors you need and being able to run Red Elemental Blast + Pyroblast for mirrors is strong.

Legacy Challenge 12/29

Last weekend held the final Legacy Challenge of 2019! Let's see how things shook out with the Top 8 of this event. You can see the full decklist results of this event here.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Mono Red Prison 1st pokerswizard
4C Miracles 2nd AnziD (Anuraag Das)
Death and Taxes 3rd SenorLarson
Infect 4th BlueHope
TES 5th Bryant_Cook
Hogaak 6th Snapcaster-Bolt
4C Loam 7th SaltyHealer
Death and Taxes 8th Shiromuni

Despite the issues that may be presented by Astrolabe/Veil/Oko, this seemed to be a pretty stellar Challenge Top 8, with a great diversity of decks with not so much Astrolabe at the top end.

At the end of the day however, it was pokerswizard who took down the event on none other than Mono-Red Prison!

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This is pretty clean and solid, given the Karn wishboard and everything. It's really cool to see cards like Bonecrusher Giant doing well in decks like this however. Solid list, and congrats on a solid finish to pokerswizard!

In Second place of this event we had UWx extraordinaire Anuraag Das playing 4C Miracles!

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One thing I really like about this list is the presence of Sevinne's Reclamation. This card is amazing and if you haven't ever gotten a chance to cast it, I definitely recommend it. It's very powerful and a lot of fun.

In Third place of this event we had SenorLarson on Death and Taxes!

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This list seems pretty typical for the deck since the banning of Wrenn and Six going back to Mother of Runes over Giver of Runes. With a little less Plague Engineer hanging around it seems like Mom can come back a little bit, but I do know a number of DnT pilots still running a split of Mom/Giver. Also showing up in the sideboard of this deck is two copies of Deafening Silence which is very interesting.

In fourth place of this event we have Infect featuring Oko!

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I like this list a lot. Oko adds an interesting angle to the deck in case things don't work out on the 10 damage plan, which is a sweet fallback case to a deck that's previously had to go on the "beat with Noble Hierarch" plan on occasion. Oko makes interacting with cards like Plague Engineer a lot better as well, meaning if the opponent manages to stick an Engineer it's not automatically lights out.

Further down the Top 8 we have the big man himself in Hogaak! This deck is honestly very sweet, and I've been learning the deck myself on occasion.

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One of the really cool things about this deck is the presence of two copies of Once Upon a Time. I have found this card to be very powerful in this shell myself as finding either an additional land or a threat like a Hogaak is pretty insane at the beginning of the game. This list is really strong, and quite possibly one of the better graveyard-centric decks in the format given how quickly it can explode out of nowhere.

Finally also in the Top 8 is 4C Loam, which is just about the sweetest deck.

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This version also uses Sevinne's Reclamation in the sideboard but is more focused on being a Punishing Fire + Abrupt Decay build, along with cards like maindeck Plague Engineer and also cool stuff like Blast Zone. Loam decks in general always look like such insane piles, but they are fun decks to play around with.

Around the Web

Here's some other fun content from around the web this week in Legacy that you should be checking out!

  • The Dead Format - Ian and Tom continue to bring solid Legacy content and you should be listening to their cast.
  • Thirst for Knowledge - My friendos Lawrence and Steven continue to tell it like it is over on this Legacy focused cast that you should also just be listening to weekly.
  • My good friend Max over at MinMaxBlog wrote a sweet article about Hogaak in Legacy!
  • Also over on MinMaxBlog, Min wrote about the current state of Miracles in Legacy!
  • Our old friend and former TWiL host Sean Brown wrote a solid tournament report about taking 2nd Place at the MF Brisbane Legacy Championships on RUG Delver!

The Spice Corner

Speaking of Opposition, I would be remiss if I did not mention this variation of the deck, since it's more combo-centric than the list at EU Eternal Weekend. This deck focuses hard on mana denial by using Winter Orb to lock the opponent down with Opposition, while allowing you to untap your own lands by tapping Winter Orb during the opponent's end step. It's a spicy meatball, and a variation of this list came in 19th at MF Bologna, so this definitely has some legs.

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Another sweet list that caught my eye was a groovy GSZ RUG deck running Natural Order!

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If there's a deck you'd love to see featured in the Spice Corner, please feel free to reach out and send me a list! I'm down to share whatever out there is spicy!

What I'm Playing This Week

I've posted a little bit about this deck on Twitter thanks to Modo user perseel, but I have a love/love relationship with Risen Reef (as most of you may or may not know) so I had to play this. Vial Deck + Risen Reef and cards like Thunderkin Awakener?! Sign me up!!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week for our first ever This Week in Legacy! This was a lot to process, but I hope you had fun. I know I did. Join me next week as we continue our journey into one of Magic's greatest formats.

As always, you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I also handle a small monthly video series known as "The Bazaar of Moxology" which talks about Vintage, Legacy, and all forms of Eternal MTG. I'm also always around the MTGGoldfish Discord server as well as the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and Subreddit if you'd like to reach out and say hi!

Until next time, this is Joe, signing off!

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