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This Week in Legacy: The Wrath of Karn

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 taking a look at all things Karn! That's right, we're going to be talking about the impact that Karn, the Great Creator has had on Legacy as a format and the kinds of decks that Karn has impacted/influenced and in some cases even helped become the cornerstone of a brand new type of deck. In addition, we have multiple events to talk about, between a Super Qualifier and two Challenge events! In addition, we have our Companion Watch section which is slightly revamped a bit, and of course our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right into things, shall we?

Karn, Interrupted

Ever since his introduction in War of the Spark, Karn, the Great Creator has slowly worked his way into the inner workings of the Legacy format. While this card was deemed too powerful and eventually restricted in Vintage, in Legacy the amount of fast mana to power out this card is very minimal and requires often a slant to the deck that necessitates playing certain cards like Ancient Tomb and Chalice of the Void, which comes with it its own set of restrictions. However, despite this, Karn has generally become a part of the Legacy format that has introduced a power level bump to various archetypes, in addition to creating brand new ones that might not exist without it.

Karn is intriguing as a card for Legacy as it provides not only a win condition, but also a role player and toolbox in one card. The most common combo used with this card is the interaction with Mycosynth Lattice as a way to end the game via a lock condition. Lattice makes everything artifacts and in turn shuts everything your opponent controls off with Karn's static ability. It's also worth noting that this leads to some wildly clever rules scenarios, since Lattice also makes everything colorless. This means that cards like Force of Vigor / Force of Will can't pitch colored cards to cast it alternatively since there are no longer any colored cards in the same. In addition, cards like Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis interact even more strangely with this lock condition and Lattice in general, as Convoke can only pay for colored mana costs by tapping a creature that shares a color with that cost (as stated in the rules for Convoke), so Lattice lock makes it impossible to actually ever cast that card as well.

Karn is also in general used quite often with Ensnaring Bridge and Lion's Eye Diamond as a one-two way of enabling Bridge very quickly by cracking LED in response to Karn's ability (holding priority to do so) and then using the resulting mana to cast Bridge.

One of the decks that Karn influenced and updated quite a bit is Mono Red Prison.

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Mono Red Prison prior to Karn's existence had to make do with simply having Chandra, Torch of Defiance as a way to close the game out, and even then Chandra lost a fair amount of equity with the change in the planeswalker redirection rules going away. Karn provided the deck a breath of new life, by giving the deck a win condition and interaction piece that played well and had strong effect vs combo (since many combo centric builds obviously utilize fast mana like LED).

Another deck that Karn has influenced and provided better support for is Mono Red Painter.

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In this deck as a more combo centric piece, Karn acts as a toolbox card and also ties together pieces of the combo. It provides the deck a way to be able to locate the half of the combo it needs to win the game, and bolsters the deck's ability to play a longer game by fetching up toolbox pieces.

Outside of this, Karn has also influenced some developments into new deck space, such as the Zirda centric decks around now as well as something like the following in Karn Echo.

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This deck has some unique angles of attack, being able to use Karn as all of its various functions, while also having an powerful combo with Narset + Echo of Eons.

Furthermore, Karn has seen direct adaptation of Modern decklists into Legacy with Uroza.

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Karn continues to be at the center of some of the format's truly interesting and wild decks, and while the card's effects are polarizing to some as most War of the Spark walkers are, it seems to have settled into the format very appropriately and at a power level that seems consistent with Legacy overall. If you're looking for something that is artifact centric and has a lot of interesting play to it, definitely consider looking into one of the Karn shells in the format.

Community Legacy Update

I actually do have a small update for this section this week! Twitter user Malfie reached out to me to talk about a few of the great resources for playing paper Legacy over webcam after last week's article. With people stuck more indoors these days, playing paper Magic over webcam has been a really cool and fun thing for many people that either don't want to invest into Magic Online or want to still play paper in addition to playing on MTGO.

To that end a few community members have established places for people to congregate and find games, tournaments, and more. One such resource is the Magic: The Gathering Paper Online Facebook Group, headed by Roland Chang.

There are also several Discords specifically for Legacy play which I will link below here:

In addition, depending on the group, many of these places encourage the use of playtest cards since these are completely community organized and unsanctioned events. This is a great way to consider picking up paper Legacy and trying out the format. Big thanks to Malfie for reaching out and sharing these resources!

Legacy Super Qualifier 5/7

We had yet another Super Qualifier this past week. There seems to be signs of this train stopping, so check every Thursday for one of these events where you can potentially queue for the Player's Tour! They cost either 40 tix, 400 play points, or 40 QPs to enter, so there's a variety of ways you can access this event. These do tend to be pretty competitive though and bring out some really powerful players.

Let's drill down into the Top 32 first.

Lurrus Grixis Delver was heavily represented in the Top 32 of this event, however, it didn't convert that well, only putting one pilot into the Top 8. Let's take a look at what did convert into Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Grixis Control 1st MatthewFoulkes
Lurrus BUG Delver 2nd ZerzaB11
Lurrus BUG Delver 3rd TwinlessTwin
LED Dredge 4th The_Daddy
Lurrus Grixis Delver 5th Gul_Dukat
Lurrus Jeskai Delver 6th Ark4n
Lurrus Miracles 7th TheZookeeper
Turbo Gyruda 8th Griselpuff

Half of this Top 8 was Delver decks with Lurrus, with only a single non-Companion deck making it into the Top 8 with Dredge. At the end of the day however, it was both MatthewFoulkes and ZerzaB11 who ended up snagging the coveted PT qualifications. In First Place, with a really slick list is Matthew's Lurrus Grixis list.

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The big thing to note here is the three copies of Of One Mind from Ikoria. It seems this card did quite well in this list, which was shared to Twitter originally by Callum Smith (WhiteFaces). In my talks with Callum about the card, it sounded like it did very well here between having Strix/Arcanist and Snapcaster/Young Pyro. Great to see this card find a home. I was very borderline sure it was not playable, but if anyone can prove me wrong in that regards it is definitely Callum and his insanely good deckbuilding skills.

In the Second Place slot was ZerzaB11's Lurrus BUG Delver.

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This version leans on a lot of disruption as well as the CA engine provided by Dark Confidant and the recurring value of Mishra's Bauble as mostly all Lurrus decks do.

In Third Place we have another Lurrus BUG Delver list.

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This version is interesting, utilizing cards like Nimble Mongoose and Stifle for a more tempo-centric game plan bolstered by Lurrus and its ability.

In Fourth Place we have LED Dredge.

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Yes, that is indeed an Oko, Thief of Crowns in the sideboard of this deck. This particular user is a regular contributor to the Dredge Discord (which I admin) and they had been posting about this sideboard choice for a while now. Glad to see their persistence and skill with this deck has paid off well.

In Fifth Place, we have the lone Lurrus Grixis Delver list, piloted by Daniel Goetschel.

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In Sixth Place we have Lurrus Jeskai Delver.

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Both this list and the Grixis list have pretty much converged on an acceptable stock list at this point, so there isn't much to say about them. They are definitely strong in the right player's hands however, as evidenced by both Goetschel and Ark4n's continued success with these strategies.

In Seventh Place we have Lurrus Miracles.

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The evolution of these variants is incredibly interesting really, as we see players trying different things within the confines of the shell. In this case, splashing green out of the sideboard for Carpet of Flowers and Veil of Summer.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have our good friend Bob Huang on Turbo Gyruda.

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I really like the cut of this list a lot, leaning harder on the disruptive element of Chalice of the Void over the fast mana of Grim Monolith for Game 1, where Chalice is likely to be the best and undisrupted. I also relatively enjoy the Leyline of Anticipation plan in the sideboard, as it is too hilarious to pull off.

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

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 39
Dreadhorde Arcanist 38
Arcum's Astrolabe 25
Karn, the Great Creator 20
Lurrus of the Dream Den 20
Veil of Summer 19
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 15
Oko, Thief of Crowns 13
Soul-Guide Lantern 7
Gyruda, Doom of Depths 4
Zirda, the Dawnwaker 4
Cling to Dust 2
Ox of Agonas 1

The numbers of Dreadhorde Arcanist definitely seems to wax and wane, but Super Qualifiers also tend to draw the best of the best meaning that there will be more of what is perceived to be the best deck, which is currently regarded to be Delver.

Now let's take a look at the Companions.

Lurrus definitely took a huge chunk here, but Zirda also appeared in quite a few decks as well.

Legacy Challenge 5/9

We had the first of two Challenge events this past weekend, so let's dive right into the Saturday morning Challenge and it's Top 32.

This is obviously a more widespread metagame than the Super Qualifier was by virtue of being a Challenge event and costing less than the Super Q, which will tend to draw players but not quite the highest competition either. This is also the Saturday Challenge, which takes place very early in the morning for US players, but is great for EU and Asian players. Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Bant Zirda 1st TKC55
Lurrus Grixis Control 2nd Svaca
Simic Lands 3rd Mechint
Lurrus Grixis Delver 4th Samu_27
U/W Tempo 5th Julian23
Lurrus Grixis Control 6th MarcoFabrizi
Lurrus Taxes 7th Control4Daze
Lurrus BUG Delver 8th HiddenGibbo

The Top 8 was pretty overshadowed by the presence of Lurrus, with only one non Companion deck in the Top 4 of the event. However, it was the Fox himself, Zirda that took down the event on the Bant Planeswalker Zirda list that's been doing well thus far.

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I like this list a lot. It just seems incredibly powerful and feels like a lot of fun. Teferi grants a really powerful way of ensuring the opponent has no options when you are going through the combo motions, but also between Karn and Oko just seems incredibly strong.

In Second Place we have Tomas Mar (Svaca) on his own variant of Grixis Control w/ Lurrus.

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Tomas leans more on cards like Kolaghan's Command and Painful Truths here, and relegates cards like Baleful Strix to the sideboard. Tomas is well practiced at these kinds of decks and his results show.

In Third Place we have Simic Lands.

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Uro continually proves what a powerful card it is in these shells where it is very unlikely to ever miss. It's also worth noting that this deck's game plan does not include Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage which is actually pretty fine. Field of the Dead is simply such an insane card that it more than makes up for it.

In Fourth Place we have Lurrus Grixis Delver.

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In Fifth Place we have the sweet Jtl005 U/W Tempo list, piloted by Julian Knab (Julian23).

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Vantress Gargoyle seems really sweet here. This deck is super cool and I love everything going on here with it.

In Sixth Place we have again the Of One Mind Grixis list.

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In Seventh Place we have the Lurrus Taxes list.

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Every time I see this list I just have to wonder why there isn't even just a singleton Umezawa's Jitte in it. Seems like it would be really sweet even without SFM to hunt it down.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Lurrus BUG Delver.

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

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 33
Veil of Summer 28
Dreadhorde Arcanist 23
Arcum's Astrolabe 22
Lurrus of the Dream Den 19
Karn, the Great Creator 15
Oko, Thief of Crowns 15
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 14
Ice-Fang Coatl 11
Gyruda, Doom of Depths 8
Zirda, the Dawnwaker 3
Soul-Guide Lantern 2
Yorion, Sky Nomad 2
Cling to Dust 1

As there was a wider spread of decks, so too was there wa wider spread on cards, but Force of Negation continues to be the single most defining spell of 2019 for sure, simply because of how much utility it offers blue decks to be able to add two copies and be able to have access to six Force effects.

Now let's take a look at the Companions.

Lurrus definitely was a big part of this Challenge, but Zirda, Yorion, and Gyruda all had pieces of the pie as well.

Legacy Challenge 5/10

Now let's take a look at the second Challenge of the weekend, which is the normal Sunday Challenge time. Let's start by looking at the Top 32.

Again, there does seem to be an array of diversity here, but a lot of Lurrus Grixis Delver, which ended up converting well into the Top 8 with 3 copies of the deck there. Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Grixis Delver 1st SilviaWataru
Bant Zirda 2nd Ultimar
Lurrus Grixis Delver 3rd JPA93
Mono Red Prison 4th BNTrusty14
Lurrus Grixis Delver 5th BReal2
Lurrus BUG Delver 6th TheJigIsAlwaysUp
Mono Red Zirda 7th SheaStrausman
Lurrus Miracles 8th Joker10289

This Top 8 had some interesting developments but also quite a bit of Delver. There was also one Non Companion deck in the form of Mono Red Prison.

The First Place list was Lurrus Grixis Delver piloted by SilviaWataru.

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There isn't much to say about these lists, but the singleton Reanimate is pretty sweet for sure. Cool tech for being able to rebuy Lurrus if it dies.

In Second Place we have Bant Zirda.

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This list is pretty powerful and showcases how strong Zirda is. Retrofitter Foundry is also a really strong backup win condition to Walking Ballista, but also just having Oko, Karn, Teferi, and Sevinne's Reclamation (which is still one of the coolest cards) is very strong.

Moving down the Top 8 to Fourth Place we have Mono Red Prison.

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With Delver being a lot more popular at the moment, it's not hard to see why Blood Moon and friends are better again. There's a lot less Snowko and Arcum's Astrolabe around with Lurrus, so these decks do have a chance to be powerful again. Not to mention how great of an addition Bonecrusher Giant was to this deck.

Moving down to Sixth Place we have Lurrus BUG Delver.

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This is again another version that focuses more on the Nimble Mongoose + Stifle plan. If you had told me that the premier Mongoose + Stifle deck in 2020 would be BUG and not RUG Delver, I'd have probably called you crazy.

In Seventh Place we have Mono Red Zirda.

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This is much like the Mono White variants, except you get cards like Abrade and Pyroblast. While this seemed to do well, I'm not really a fan of the red plan, as white seems to me to offer better sideboard options like Swords to Plowshares + Seal of Cleansing (which can get rid of Stony Silence if it ever ticks up in play) and also having some cool sideboard fetch options like Glass Casket. The big reason to play red is for the red blast effects mainly, and if the format does ever see a huge uptick in Mindbreak Trap then I can see it.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Lurrus Miracles.

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This is what we've come to expect out of these lists, but again Sevinne's Reclamation! Card is really really strong, much stronger than people assumed when it was first released.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards and the Companions.

Card Name Number of Copies
Dreadhorde Arcanist 32
Force of Negation 32
Veil of Summer 30
Arcum's Astrolabe 23
Karn, the Great Creator 23
Lurrus of the Dream Den 19
Oko, Thief of Crowns 14
Gyruda, Doom of Depths 4
Soul-Guide Lantern 4
Zirda, the Dawnwaker 4
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 3
Cling to Dust 1

It's relatively clear what the most powerful 2019-2020 cards are, despite how Lurrus is warping the format, the 2019 cards like Arcanist bolster that game plan so very very well.

Now let's take a look at the Companions.

As always, there wasn't just Lurrus in this event, and Zirda is slowly but surely picking up in popularity. Whether this is enough of an uptick to be on even terms with Lurrus is unknown as Lurrus shells have a bit of diversity to them while Zirda is tunneled in on specific archetype strategy.

Companion Watch

So now we come to a look at how Companions have been affecting the format since release. I took some feedback for this section and revamped how I was tracking this data so hopefully this will be a little more useful. Again, I'm only tracking events that post Top 32 decklists (like Super Qualifiers and Challenges). The Showcase Qualifier results only had Top 13 lists and I felt it was important to maintain consistency in data sets.

The earliest Week 1 events with these cards obviously had a card availability issue in the first two events, but Non Companion decks dipped below Lurrus as of the third event of Week 1 and never went back up again. It is interesting to see this trend and the moments where Lurrus dips and flows, but it has stayed pretty steady at around 19-20 copies per event on average since picking up real steam. It is great to have multiple Challenges per weekend however to get more data trends on this mechanic. It's become pretty clear that Lurrus is miles above the rest, but I do wonder what the trajectory of Zirda will look like. I do believe if Lurrus gets banned, that Zirda will pick up in its place and prove to be one of the more powerful decks in the format, especially the Bant Zirda builds that can play countermagic to protect the combo.

Furthermore, I would like to thank some readers on providing feedback on last week's topic about Brainstorm. I did want to note in a sort of clarifying understanding that I don't actually think it to be fruitless to have discussions about the banning of cards in this format like Brainstorm, and I don't want anyone to think I would want to shut down that conversation. For me personally it ends up being a discussion I've had several times and at times it can get tiring to have it. But if that is something you are passionate about and wish to converse on, please continue to do so! Discussion and healthy debate does breed new ideas and new ways of looking at things, so I really appreciated the feedback from those of you who provided it.

Companions are certainly a polarizing topic, and it is going to be severely interesting to see what happens Monday with the BnR announcement that Wizards posted would occur here on Twitter. My prediction is that only Lurrus will be banned and then we shall ascertain what the format will look like. Rest assured next week will be an interesting article nonetheless.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend jtl005 (Jeff Lin) has started streaming! Specifically he is streaming the new U/W Tempo deck that he has done very well with over the past few weeks, and is going to be streaming at 7PM EST on Mondays and Fridays. You can check out his stream over here.
  • The guys at Eternal Durdles just posted a new episode not too long ago, so go check that out here!
  • Shoutout to the guys at the Legacy Pit, who amidst COVID-19 restrictions, have continued to provide excellent paper Legacy content by having remote players play on stream. You can check out their stream here!

The Spice Corner

Mono Blue Delver with Porcelain Legionnaire?!

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I thought this was pretty clever to play Yorion Aluren combo.

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First sighting of an Obosh, the Preypiercer deck in a League 5-0!

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Finally our good friend Solnox has cracked the code of Nic Fit in Legacy, by cranking it up to 11 on one of the most amusing decklists I've seen and played for a while now. I give to you, EDH Nic Fit.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm still working on and really enjoying playing Zirda Bomberman at the moment, and will likely be on the deck for a while.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thank you for your continued support of the column and join me 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 /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and subreddit.

Until next time!

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