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This Week in Legacy: The Year That Was


Howdy folks! It's time for the final This Week in Legacy of 2020! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be looking back at 2020 not just from a high level overview of Legacy but also from my point of view in my first year taking over this column. In addition to that, we have two Challenges to discuss and the Legacy Season Three Showcase Qualifier. Oh right, and the final Spice Corner of 2020!

Without further ado, let's get right to it!

The Year in Review

2020 was certainly an interesting year for all of us. The biggest driving force of everything this year has been obviously the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has drastically altered the shape of paper Magic in general, not just in not being able to have events, but how much Magic Online has become one of the most defining parts of the Legacy format.

For me personally, this year was certainly interesting due to the fact that while I've been writing for MTGGoldfish for a bit, this was my first year having taken over This Week in Legacy and I am certainly thankful for the community's overall response to the column. Also, I noted this on Twitter/Reddit, but thanks to how my article schedule lined up this year, I posted an article in every week of 2020! That's a serious amount of content. I also want to thank Adriano Kitani for their work in presenting my ideas in visual form with the thumbnail work.

With that in mind, I am going to go over the Top 10 articles of 2020, but first let's talk about the community side of things in 2020.

The Legacy 2020 Community Stuff

This year was a big year for the Legacy community, regardless of the fact that there were basically zero major competitive paper Legacy events. Even without this, the Legacy community continued to grind out more and more content, from names such as The Legacy Pit and 90sMTG providing webcam paper content with remote players to content creators such as Anuraag Das pushing the limits of MTGO based content in conjunction with Team Lotus Box. Legacy Podcasts also continued to pump out content, and we even had a brand new one start up in the form of the In Response cast.

This was a year that could have been the death knell in regards to Legacy as a format, but the community was ultimately responsible for making it worth continuing to play and develop content for the format. Props to all of the Legacy content creators for continuing to keep the spirit of Legacy alive through the midst of all of this. You're all exceptionally awesome, and there's too many of you to list.

With that being said, I'm glad overall to have been a part of that in the long run. Let's take a look at how my own 2020 shaped up with the Top 10 articles of 2020 from a "user views" perspective.

#10 - Companion, Interrupted (13,427 views)

This article covered primarily the bannings of both Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Zirda, the Dawnwaker in Legacy. Companions were a huge hot button topic this year, and the banning of these cards was certainly a big topic to cover.

Also, the thumbnail art for this article was massively fun. Just look at how unhappy both Lurrus and Zirda are!

#9 - Leaving a Legacy (13,915 views)

This article covered one of the last large paper Legacy events of the year (at least that's what it felt like) in the form of the Leaving a Legacy Open in Acton, MA. In addition to covering the event, we were able to sit down and talk to the winner of the event (Freya Sanford) and their approach to playing Lands in this event. This was a fun event to discuss, and I hope we get back to those events later on!

#8 - The Veil of Winter (14,914 views)

This was my first article of the column this year, and set the tone for what would become my norm for this column. It set the standard and I was utterly thankful for the responses to this article overall, moreso than any other article this year.

I got to talk a lot about Arcum's Astrolabe and Veil of Summer / Oko, Thief of Crowns in this article though, and a year later we're just talking about the same thing!

#7 - Where Everybody Knows Your (Deck) Name (15,294 views)

This article was pretty interesting because it delved into a subject that I greatly enjoy, which is the historical aspects of Legacy as a format. We spoke a lot about the history of deck names and why certain deck names exist, as well as what happens when the language on those names falls out of favor. It was a lot of fun to dial in on and I hope to do another one at some point with other decks not already covered by this article.

#6 - Combo Breaker! (15,497 views)

This article was largely inspired by my friends on The Dead Format, talking about the concepts of various combo decks in Legacy and how those combo decks function, from A+B linear combo to engine combo. We also had a solid Level Up Lesson here on missed triggers.

Also, Adriano again killing it with the cool Tendrils of Agony guy.

#5 - The Golden Chicken (15,606 views)

This article was great fun because it not only allowed me to promote a local event in Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy (hosted by my good friend Rob Wilson) but also to talk about my experiences playing in this event. We even had a great interview with Rob in this article and everything just turned out pretty stellar with this article.

Plus again, another solid thumbnail from Adriano. Just look at that chicken!

#4 - Baby Sharks (15,981 views)

Thumbnail aside (because this one is STUPENDOUS), I really enjoyed getting to talk about Shark Typhoon and Standstill decks in this article, as the card had a huge impact on the archetype overall. There was also some fun Community stuff in this one with the No Astrolabe/No Veil event ran by Anuraag Das.

#3 - The Gods At War (16,416 views)

I think possibly the first time that my article title got miscommunicated to Adriano (so the thumbnail ended up different just slightly ("of" instead of "At") than the actual title of the article), but this was the first article that I really made the statement about the possible banning of Underworld Breach. Sure enough, Breach ended up getting banned relatively quickly. In addition to Breach however, we also saw the first inkling of the effect that Dryad of the Ilysian Grove would go on to have in the format. We also talked a bit about the lack of GP/MagicFests on the 2020 schedule for Legacy... and well... yeah we didn't know at the time that there would be absolutely zero large paper Magic events due to a global pandemic. Didn't quite age well, for sure.

#2 - Dawn of the Dream-Den (20,873 views)

This article was notable because I immediately over a single weekend identified the power level of Companions in relation to the Legacy format and called for their removal. Companions, notably especially Lurrus of the Dream-Den, fundamentally altered every format they touched competitively over the course of a single weekend. While both Zirda and Lurrus would end up being banned, both Yorion and Gyruda tore into the rest of the metagame until the Companion mechanic was finally altered. Now, the only Companion that still sees play is Yorion and even then in fairly small doses.

This article also did a good job of reminding me that the Gyruda deck was in the end a fun and interesting deck to theorycraft and develop, and although it certainly was exceptionally broken, it was still pretty fun to work on.

#1 - Walking on Thin Ice (21,661 views)

I honestly had no idea what to think about the fact that the article about the Secret Lair: The Walking Dead cards would be the most viewed article of 2020, but here we are. There was a lot of unpack with these cards and they were high in conversation across multiple circles of Magic social media, with many players decrying the fact that Wizards was putting mechanically unique cards into Secret Lair product lines.

In the long run, one of these cards (Rick, Steadfast Leader) did become playable in Legacy Humans strategies, reinforcing the idea that mechanically unique cards in limited print run product is a bad thing, but we also ended up finding out that this Secret Lair was the best selling one of 2020, so I wouldn't really expect anything different going forward.

A Look Ahead to 2021

As we head into 2021, my big hope for growing more content in 2021 is to also expand into doing video content on a more regular basis, as well as getting into streaming content. I've been working up funds for this purpose for some time and hope to be able to make that happen early on in 2021 so that we can do more and more.

I also hope to continue gathering more and more data in the Legacy Challenge events, and continue trying to deliver the best quality articles that we possibly can, week in and week out.

Legacy Challenge 12/26

We had a fair number of events this past weekend, the first of which was the early morning Saturday Challenge event. Thanks to the efforts of the Legacy Data Collection Project, we know we had 70 players in this event. Let's dive right into the overall metagame breakdown!

 

As has remained a standby of events for a while now, the Snowko and RUG Delver decks had a large presence in this metagame, but mostly Snowko in this regards. Cloudpost decks also had a reasonably large percentage of the metagame as those decks have been gaining in popularity among several powerful regional players in this specific event for some time now, with a lot of repeat performances by players such as Into_Play and Twibs.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Delver 1st HJ_Kaiser
Burn 2nd Pablohotdog
U/R Delver 3rd kohei1202
RUG Noble 4th NooxTom
Snowko 5th mtgtaka
RUG Stifle 6th popposennsei
Cloudpost 7th Twibs
Cloudpost 8th into_play

Okay so this Top 8 was certainly something, with a few Delver, a few Snow based decks and a few Cloudpost strategies. But also... Burn?! Yeah, this is a thing. At the end of the event it was RUG Delver, piloted by the one and only Hans Jacob Goddick, a previous Eternal Weekend Legacy Championships winner and Delver pilot extraordinaire, that took down the whole event.

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HJ's list is exceptionally clean, only leaning on the green creature slot for Hooting Mandrills here. His sideboard is also really super clean, loading up on more focused answers to things rather than having a myriad of 1-of silver bullets. HJ certainly gets Delver deck building strategy, so this is a solid place to arrive at.

The Second Place finalist of this event was none other than.... BURN!!!!

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With an overall record of 7-3 (5-2 in the Swiss rounds) it's super cool to see a deck like Burn jump to the top of a 70 player event like this. This particular pilot has been playing this deck pretty consistently over the past few weeks however, so it's no surprise. The real cool tech here is the presence of Roiling Vortex. That card is exceptionally powerful.

Also in the Top 8 we have a showing by a really interesting RUG Krark, the Thumbless deck.

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Utilizing Of One Mind with Krark/Arcanist and Noble Hierarch/Young Pyromancer is super cool. This deck actually looks like it would be a lot of fun to play and Krark is such a sweet card for these kinds of strategies.

Outside of the Top 8 in Ninth Place we have a showing by Rector Fit.

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Yorion is a solid and interesting way to approach this deck, and makes it really good at resetting cards like Planeswalker loyalty. The big kicker here is the three Opposition Agent in the main deck, which seems very powerful to have in a deck like this. I love how clean this list is, not trying to get cute with any fluff Planeswalkers. Super cool list.

Also outside of the Top 8 is our good friend Anuraag Das on a newer deck that has been colloquially referred to as "Snow Day".

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The big part of this deck is the combination of Hullbreacher and Day's Undoing to wheel the opponent into no cards and a bunch of mana to deal with anything that the opponent might end up having. This is a really unique take on the Snow Miracles/Snowko variants and definitely seems rather interesting given how powerful Hullbreacher is.

Legacy Challenge 12/27

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-morning / early afternoon Challenge, which had 98 players thanks to the efforts by the Legacy Data Collection Project. Let's take a look at the metagame breakdown.

 

RUG Delver had a massive presence in this metagame at a little over 20% of the metagame with 20 copies of the deck overall. The deck also converted very well into the Top 32 and eventually the Top 8. Snowko and Elves also had a good presence in the metagame, with Snow performing very well in different variants. This was certainly an interesting event however, so let's dive into the Top 8 of the event.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Snow Miracles 1st wefoldforfood
Doomsday 2nd Iwouldliketorespond
RUG Delver 3rd jacetmsst
Sneak and Show 4th SuperJoschi
Snowko 5th RobGladiator90
RUG Delver 6th Ozymandias17
Arcanist Snowko 7th Olivetti
Yorion Zenith 8th kauffj

This is a pretty interesting Top 8 given the fact that there's plenty of Snowko decks here despite RUG Delver's massive presence in only being able to convert two pilots to the Top 8 to the fact that there were four Arcum's Astrolabe decks.

At the end of the event it was none other than wefoldforfood on Snow Miracles that won the event.

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This is a pretty standard Snow Miracles variant with the additions of Shark Typhoon in the main deck, while splashing for red in the sideboard for blast effects.

The Second Place list here is our good friend Marcus Ewaldh on Doomsday!

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The biggest thing here is the addition of three copies of Predict in the sideboard as well as the technology of the Dreadhorde Arcanist plan out of the sideboard. This is a brain child of both Marcus and Max Gilmore, and these two really spent a lot of time on this list to really push the limits with it. Strong run, Marcus!

Also in the Top 8 of this event is a list we've been seeing show up in the form of a Arcanist Snowko deck that is 4C (RUG + White splash) and is sort of like the RUG Stifle/Midrange deck but is playing removal like Swords to Plowshares too.

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This list is certainly interesting, leaning on some of the normal threats of the Snow shells but also with the split removal options of Bolt + Swords. Definitely an interesting way to take the archetype for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a really sweet list in Grixis Phoenix featuring a copy of Court of Ambition!

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This list is super duper cool, with the md Court to the fact that the sideboard for this deck is a transformational sideboard into Doomsday. Really stupendously cool.

Legacy Showcase Qualifier Season Three 12/27

This past weekend was also the culmination of the final Showcase Qualifier event of 2020, the end of Season Three. This event had 26 players all vying for a spot in the Kaldheim Championships Pro Tour level event on Arena. Let's take a look at the breakdown of the metagame.

 

While it definitely can look like on a graph that both Snowko and RUG Delver were a huge presence of the metagame, it's important to keep in mind the sample size of the event as well. Both decks had five pilots out of 26 players (so 10 / 26). It's also important to keep in mind that many of the players in this event knew going in who most of the other players were that were qualified, so there was plenty of inbred metagaming going on here. It's hard to form a true objective conclusion about the performance of RUG / Snowko in this event because of this. However, it's worth noting that these decks currently qualify as "best deck syndrome" in the format, so they're decks that players at this level are going to have a familiarity with and decks that generally reward general Magic skill, drawing more players to them.

Let's take a look at how the Top 8 went.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Snowko 1st vMI-Nav
RUG Delver 2nd qbturtle15
Doomsday 3rd Sawatrix
RUG Delver 4th yamakiller
The EPIC Storm 5th Vivarus
U/R Delver 6th medvedev
Snowko 7th wambocombo2020
RUG Delver 8th sakuragi21722749

The biggest glaring thing here is the fact that RUG Delver converted 3/5 of the pilots on the deck to the Top 8, as well as 2/5 of the Snowko players, making this Top 8 truly a slug fest between the two decks. On the surface level it can seem pretty insane that no other decks broke into the Top 8 besides these, but given the metagame share of the two decks I'm hardly surprised at this, especially if any of the pilots are exceptionally powerful players.

Unfortunately, we don't have any decklists for this event from Wizards, as they tend to have issues with posting Showcase Qualifier data it seems. However, the winner of the event was indeed a Snowko variant piloted by vMI-Nav, who gets to walk away here with an invitation to the upcoming Arena Kaldheim Championships! Congrats on taking down the event!

December 2020 Aggregate Metagame Update

We've been going through the motions on the Legacy Data Collection Project now for the past few weeks, and we have our first sort of big aggregate amount of data. This data is comprised from the events we've been able to collect in December, starting with the Showcase Challenge on December 6th, and is comprised of a total of 738 entries and an estimated number of 4,041 matches of Legacy.

The first thing to look at here is the metagame percentages.

As has been sort of expected, RUG Delver is currently the most populous deck in the format, with 14.1% of this data at 104 entries. Snowko sits at a solid second at 9.5% with 90 entries. The "Other" category here ends up being decks that fall into a macro archetype but don't have a specific subarchetype categorization (namely decks that are off the beaten path and don't generally have a huge number of results). The biggest observation here is that if you are looking at Legacy and wanting to approach what the current "top decks" are, those decks are indeed RUG Delver and Snowko. These are the top tier decks to beat at this point.

Now let's take a look at some more interesting data in regards to win rates.

This type of chart is what is known as a Candlestick chart, a chart typically utilized for stock exchanges. One of our assistants (Reeplcheep) on the Legacy Data Collection Discord repurposed this kind of chart to sort of act as error bars in a sense.

To understand this chart, it is best to look at the horizontal bar in each entry. This represents the absolute win rate for the data presented in the data set w/ mirrors. Some of these bars have an additional horizontal bar (creating a solid box instead of a straight horizontal bar) which also represents the win rate correcting for mirrors.

The vertical bar represents the 95% Confidence Interval of the data, where we are estimating the true win rate with 95% confidence. This is a statistics thing that helps us be able to examine data and present it with confidence that it is accurate. What this means is that the range of true win rates could be anywhere within the range of 95% CI. This number goes down the more data that is collected, which is what is meant when you see people talk about the concept of sample size. A smaller sample size of data means that the 95% CI of the win rate will be higher, meaning the possible range of true win rate is higher as well. This is why more data is always better at being able to say with confidence what the true win rate actually is.

For example, the deck we've talked about a lot is RUG Delver, which has a current MWP w/ Mirrors listed in this data set as 51.8%. The 95% CI listed here with 104 entries is 3.87% which means that the true win rate could settle anywhere from 59% at the top end to 45% at the bottom end of the range. The more data that is long term retrived on this deck means that the 95% CI will decrease over time and we can easily determine what the true win rate is.

Of course, this also means that decks that are fringe in the format don't nearly have enough data to estimate their true win rates, as the 95% CI is much higher. Aluren here is a good example of this, as its true win rate could be anywhere from 10% to 80%. The range is simply too high to really accurately say because there isn't enough of a sample size of data to say for certain.

Another deck to look at is Snowko, which as noted before had 70 entries. The estimated MWP w/ Mirrors is listed at 53.2% with a 95% CI of 4.93%.

This is still not quite to where we want to be with this data, but we also have only really just started and this represents roughly 8 events worth of data. However, what we can glean from this information is that the win rates of both Snowko decks and RUG Delver are of course, not exceptionally dominating upon the format. The thing about this to talk about further however is that both of these decks currently suffer from the aspect of "best deck" syndrome (especially RUG Delver) and that they're both decks that have a pretty high skill floor. Players attracted to these decks that are either new to the deck or have not accrued the play experience necessary to play the deck well (as it takes time to learn to play these decks effectively) will do worse than highly skilled players and thus the average win rate accounts for that. However, we can't simply throw out this data because then it isn't representative of the true overall data set, as we cannot try to force the data to account for skill.

The problem with all of this is the fact that we can easily see that from a performance standpoint, the current incarnations of Snowko and RUG Delver are not performing on a level that would be potentially considered for action in the format from a BnR perspective. However, it is also worth noting that this should not be the absolute method to determine whether the format is healthy currently, so this data should be taken and processed as a part of the whole picture that is Legacy currently.

As we continue to provide more and more data however, I expect we will get a more interesting look at the format, and we'll do another one of these updates next month after we've got two months worth of data by that point.

Around the Web

  • 90sMTG has a classic RUG Delver vs D&T matchup this week, so go check that out here!
  • In Response Podcast has their 13th episode available, this time joined by Marc Eric Vogt! Check it out here.
  • Phil Gallagher has some sweet Applejacks games lined up for us. Check it out here.
  • Join the Veteran Explorer Travel Agency!

The Spice Corner

Our first entry in the final Spice Corner of the year is Mono Blue Delver Phyrexian Dreadnought combo.

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Basuta in with Mono Red Prison, except this time with both Blood Moon and Blood Sun AND Fireflux Squad!

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A bit of a 4C Loam build w/o Chalice, but heavy on cards like Brushfire Elemental and Klothys.

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Our final 2020 Spice Corner entry is a Standstill variant that also plays the combo of Hullbreacher and Day's Undoing!

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What I'm Playing This Week

I still only have Yorion Reclaimer and Oops rented out at the moment, so I'm likely playing one of those if I get the time through this holiday season.

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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 YEAR (I had to make the joke!) 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 year!



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