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This Week in Legacy: Top 10 Legacy Decks of 2020

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 continuing our wrap on 2020 by covering the Top 10 Legacy decks of the year! This oughta be fun. In addition to this, we've got two Challenges to talk about, one of which is a Showcase Challenge, and as always our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Top 10 of 2020

We're now at the wire of wrapping up 2020 and looking forward to 2021, which brings us to Kaldheim and beyond. I thought it might be fun to take a dive into the Top 10 decks of the format for 2020. This is in all actuality in no particular real order and this isn't meant to be a ratings system by any means, these are simply 10 decks for the year that really made a splash in the format, and we'll talk about the why on each deck.

2020 was filled with a lot of different printings that impacted the format, and every one of these decks is taking advantage in some fashion of F.I.R.E. design space, so without further ado let's dive right in.

#10 - Cloudpost

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Cloudpost strategies as a deck rose up in prominence this year, with many powerful pilots pushing the strategy. One of the biggest things this deck received was the combination of Elvish Reclaimer and Once Upon a Time, allowing Mono Green variants to gain a way to filter through their deck and develop their manabase. Building this deck as well with the Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage combo also made Once Upon a Time and these cards much better as well, giving the deck a secondary way of winning the game outside of its normal ramp plan.

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In addition to the Mono Green variants, Colorless variants also did very well this year, working on a basis with cards like Karn, the Great Creator and All Is Dust.

This is a deck that has a fair amount of truly dedicated pilots, both on Green and Colorless variants, and is definitely a deck to keep an eye on into the next year.

#9 - Bomberman

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Bomberman as a deck this year has had some interesting evolutions. The largest evolution with this deck was the original introduction of Companions. The card Zirda, the Dawnwaker was an incredibly powerful change to the deck, turning it from a Monastery Mentor Stompy variant into a powerful combo engine that could kill as early as Turn 1. With the banning of Zirda and the changes made to the Companion mechanic however, Bomberman took another turn into utilizing the card Gyruda, Doom of Depths. Gyruda gave the deck not only a free threat to cast, but also a threat that could reanimate an Auriok Salvagers that it milled with its trigger in order to combo off. Adding blue to the deck allows it to also play Urza, Lord High Artificer which is another powerful threat for Gyruda to reanimate.

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Having to play only even converted mana cost cards ended up being pretty much nothing to this deck, with plenty of X threats and zero converted mana cost cards. The power of this deck has been pushed by several very strong pilots, one of which (Kanican) has done exceptionally well in many high level events.

#8 - Oops! All Spells

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There was never a more interesting story this year than the rise of Oops! All Spells into a prominent deck in the Legacy format. Prior to this year, Oops was primarily a fringe strategy, relying on many moving pieces to win the game. It utilized cards like Laboratory Maniac to win the game with. That all changed in 2020 with the advent of Theros: Beyond Death and Zendikar Rising. The biggest change to this deck was the printing of Modal DFC cards with Lands on the reverse side, specifically the Mythic cycle of those cards that can enter the battlefield untapped for the cost of three life. One of the biggest issues with the deck was the up front access to black mana, and Agadeem's Awakening very much corrected that issue.

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In addition to having a more consistent "manabase" this deck also received an upgraded win condition in Thassa's Oracle, which created a win condition that is difficult to deal with. Add in some free destruction effects in Force of Vigor and suddenly you have a very powerful deck in the current format. The presence of these lands also created a Blue splash variant that gets to play Force of Will as well.

This deck went 12-1 in one of the Eternal Weekend events, so this is a deck to look at more going into 2020.

#7 - Doomsday

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Doomsday is another deck that was directly impacted by the printing of Thassa's Oracle. By simplifying the deck's functionality in building piles to win the game with, Oracle also developed the deck's construction as well by allowing the deck to function as a full on Xerox Control deck. Being able to cast Force of Will is exceptionally strong in a deck like this, but also gaining access to free countermagic such as Daze also greatly improved the power level of this deck as well.

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It's certainly possible that Doomsday is one of the best Dark Ritual decks in the format at this juncture, making it a deck to certainly keep an eye on for 2021.

#6 - Karn Echo

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One of the most lowkey sleeper decks of most of 2020, Karn Echo is a deck that flew under most player's radar for a good majority of the year, despite the fact that the deck kept doing exceptionally well throughout the year. However, it was the release of Commander Legends that really brought the deck into the bigger spotlight, thanks to the printing of the card Hullbreacher. Karn Echo is an incredibly powerful deck, filled with powerful haymaker threats. Everything this deck does is super threatening, from its ability to wheel the opponent into no hand to being able to cast Karn, the Great Creator and Urza, Lord High Artificer early in the game.

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Karn Echo is a very powerful deck, so keep it in mind as we progress into the future.

#5 - Goblins

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Goblins recevied a LOT of love this year. Prior to the release of Core Set 2021 and JumpStart the deck was already starting to make waves in the format again, thanks to the 2019 printing of Sling-Gang Lieutenant and Pashalik Mons. However, this year the printings of both Conspicuous Snoop and Muxus, Goblin Grandee really broke open the deck again, even allowing the deck to evolve into two separate variants: the classic Aether Vial control strategy and a Turbo focused Muxus variant.

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Goblins is a strong deck and is pushed well by the fact that there are plenty of focused pilots on the deck from the eponymous GoblinLackey1 (Eli Goings) to pilots such as Grumsh who continue to develop cool Goblin related content for new players to learn the deck.

#4 - Elves

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As another tribal deck this year, Elves also received a strong upgrade and evolution of its core strategy, primarily thanks to the printing of Allosaurus Shepherd in JumpStart. The presence of this card turbo-charged the archetype, even allowing it to also diverge into two different variants, one with Elvish Reclaimer and Once Upon a Time and another with Nettle Sentinel. While Elves was also tearing up prior to the printing of Shepherd, its printing just absolutely boosted the archetype into one of the top archetypes in the format.

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Elves is another strategy that has a lot of focused pilots on the deck, from Newton Hang to Julian Knab.

#3 - Death and Taxes

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D&T is a deck that started this year in very much an awkward position in the overall metagame, as cards like Plague Engineer and largely Oko, Thief of Crowns were very taxing on the deck. However, the persistence of the deck's pilots saw its continued survival as players attempted to solve the deck's metagame issues.

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Thankfully, the deck received a powerful upgrade in the form of Skyclave Apparition in Zendikar Rising, giving the deck an exceptionally powerful answer to cards like Oko and Uro. Having this answer boosted the power of the deck back into the limelight, and alternative tech in the form of Yorion, Sky Nomad also gave the deck a different variant to work with as well. I have never personally met more dedicated pilots than D&T pilots, so it's great to see the deck continue to acquire success.

#2 - Snowko

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Snowko is a deck that arose from the printings of Arcum's Astrolabe last year, but primarily rose in prominence due to plenty of printings this past year, the largest of which was Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. Uro boosted the power level of these decks as well as increased the level of the arms race of these decks in order to fight the other blue decks in the format. Another card that also heavily impacted this deck was Omnath, Locus of Creation from Zendikar Rising.

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In addition to card printings, people also began to adapt the Snow shell in various ways from decks such as BUG Zenith, Stryfo Pile switching to a Yorion variant with Astrolabe, but the most interesting development was the creation of Poke Pile (RUG Stifle) by creating a Snow shell that functioned more like a tempo deck as opposed to a straight midrange control deck by utilizing threats that were typically Delver-like threats in Dreadhorde Arcanist and Stifle.

At this point, due to the popularity of the deck this is definitely one of the defining decks of 2020, whether you care for the Snow strategy or not, as the deck is exceptionally polarizing in discussions about Legacy banlists.

#1 - RUG Delver

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RUG Delver is the other half of one of the largely defining decks of 2020, for obvious reasons. RUG Delver's rise to prominence began last year with the printing and banning of Wrenn and Six, but this past year continued to showcase the deck's strengths. One of the most impactful printings this year came in the form of Klothys, God of Destiny from Theros: Beyond Death, giving the deck a powerful way of attacking decks like Snowko and cards like Uro.

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RUG Delver has diverged a little this year with people playing variants with Uro over normal beaters like Hooting Mandrills and Tarmogoyf, but the core strategy of the deck is still definitely one of the defining decks of 2020, and a deck to continue to keep an eye on for quite a while.

Looking Ahead to 2021

2020 was certainly a year for Legacy decks, and these 10 decks don't even begin to cover all the cool developments that did happen this year, from decks like Ninjas to Curse Stompy becoming solid and powerful decks in the current format. It's clear that at the very least, despite how one feels about these printings this year, there were certainly some great improvements to plenty of decks.

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We'll continue looking forward to next year, however, as we will keep an eye on the developments of these 10 decks and many many more.

Lotus Box Legacy Octagon

Last weekend the good folks at Team Lotus Box held what is known as an Octagon. This is an 8-player Single Elimination event for a cash prize. Only eight will enter, one will leave. Let's take a look at the competitors and how things broke down. You can locate the full Tournament results for this event here.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
ANT 1st Daniel D'Amato
Omni-Tell 2nd Tim Akpinar
Snowko 3rd Callum Smith
Lands 4th Casey Lancaster
Depths Combo 5th Thomas Hepp
SnDaniowko 6th Matthew Vook
Curse Stompy 7th Justin Fuller-Thomson
Elves 8th Adam Wallace

There was some stacked players in this small event, between the powerhouse behind Depths Combo in Thomas Hepp to our good friend Callum Smith as well as ANT master Daniel D'Amato. At the end of the event, it was indeed Daniel who took it all down on ANT.

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Daniel's list is really quite strong, and Daniel's mastery of the deck really shone through in the event. One of the cool pieces of tech here is the presence of Sadistic Sacrament, which can be used to extract cards from the opponent's library. Kicking this spell is pretty unlikely, but if you ever get a chance to do it the effect is just simply backbreaking.

The Second Place list from the event that played against Daniel in the finals was Tim Akpinar on Omni-Tell.

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Glittering Wish here is super cool, and there's a plethora of sideboard functionality to go with it, including one of the cooler cards in Conflux. This is such a super cool list. It's not often you get to see sweet tech in Omni variants like this, but it really is very sweet.

Lotus Box runs these events on a regular basis in a varying number of formats, so continue to check out their Twitter to keep up on these events!

Legacy Challenge 12/5

We had two Challenge events this weekend, the first of which was the early morning Saturday event. Let's dive right into the Top 32 Metagame breakdown.

There was certainly a ton of Elves in the Top 32 of this event, in addition to the format's other two big name decks (Snowko and RUG Delver). However, despite the Snowko presence, the deck didn't actually perform all that well and didn't convert well to the Top 8 of the event. The Top 8 however is certainly pretty spicy, so let's take a look at that.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Elves 1st Comeback
Elves 2nd EronRelentless
Esper Vial 3rd Musasabi
Merfolk 4th Haneman
Cloudpost 5th Twibs
Cloudpost 6th Into_Play
Depths Combo 7th Zhinonono
RUG Delver 8th MarkPenaFlorida

Not only did Elves have a pretty solid presence in the Top 32 of this event, but it also put two pilots right into the finals of the event in a showdown for the ages between two armies of Elven fair. Let's take a look at both our winner and Second Place lists.

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Both of these lists are incredibly different despite the core similarities and game plan. Comeback's list is more focused on the combo kill with Craterhoof by utilizing the four Nettle Sentinel / Allosaurus Shepherd build while Eron's is the more controlling Elvish Reclaimer version that includes cards like Archon of Valor's Reach. Both lists look pretty strong, and the sideboard copy of Vivien, Monsters' Advocate in the sideboard of Comeback's list is certainly incredibly intriguing. Being able to Glimpse of Nature chain off the top of your library if you draw a bunk card is pretty sweet.

It's also worth noting the copy of Klothys, God of Destiny in the Second Place sideboard. This is definitely a card that has very few answers right now outside of things like Skyclave Apparition, and it's power level is incredibly high at the same time.

Speaking of Skyclave Apparition, the Third Place deck is playing that plus some other new cards in Esper Vial.

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Esper Vial is a great place for toolbox level cards like Opposition Agent and Hullbreacher, given that the deck can fetch them out of the deck with Recruiter of the Guard and then even put them into play with Aether Vial to bypass counterspells. Vial has so many interesting options these days, so it's pretty cool to see the deck doing well.

Also in the Top 8 we had two Cloudpost lists, but I want to call attention to the Sixth Place Monogreen Post list because of the pilot Into_Play. Into_Play has been consistently killing it with this deck for some time now, doing very well in Challenge events and even putting in two Top 8s this weekend alone (one of which was the Showcase Challenge we'll be talking about in a bit here). Major congrats to Into_Play for keeping up the good word of the Eldrazi Overlords and really putting in the time and effort with such a sweet deck.

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The presence of four copies of Carpet of Flowers in the sideboard here is absolutely absurd, but it speaks a lot to the current format's popular decks in RUG Delver and Snowko, as Carpet (and multiple Carpets especially) is usually exceptionally back-breaking against those decks.

Outside of the Top 8 I'd like to look at BURN!

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Roiling Vortex from Zendikar Rising makes an appearance here, and I have to admit the card looks really good for a deck like this. Being able to get your opponent on their free casts of cards like Force of Will/Force of Negation is exceptional, and having a cheaper Sulfuric Vortex effect stapled onto the card at the same time is pretty good. Also, for those people enterprising into Legacy on a real budget, this deck is only $174 in paper and 80-90 Tix on Magic Online.

Legacy Showcase Challenge 12/6

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the final Season Three Showcase Challenge event. These events cost Qualification Points (QPs) to enter, and are generally higher competition than typical Challenges due to the nature of this entry fee. The Top 8 of this event becomes qualified for the Season Three Showcase Qualifier event, which in turn gives a path to playing in a Pro Tour level event.

The bad thing about these events at this point is the fact that if someone Top 8's one of these events that has already made a Top 8 in the Showcase Challenges that season, those qualifications do not just pass down to the next qualified person. This is rather different than how the premier level qualifier events worked last year where the qualification would pass down. I suspect this has a lot to do with it being now tied to a format entry token that is granted upon winning than anything, whereas last year's processes were a lot more manual. Still, I hope that this is something that Wizards considers fixing for next year, as this inevitably causes the Showcase Qualifier event to be lopsided a tad instead of at the full number of players the event was designed for.

Now let's take a look at the Top 32 Metagame breakdown.

When the chips are down, the top two decks of the format in Snowko and RUG Delver come out claws bared and ready to rumble. However, between the fact that there was a lot of both RUG Delver and U/R Delver, there was actually just more Delver decks in general than the Snow variants here. Still, there was a lot of other interesting decks outside of the top ones, and the Top 8 was certainly very interesting, so let's take a look at that.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Snowko 1st Slod
Bomberman 2nd Kanican
U/R Delver 3rd Medvedev
Snowko 4th WamboCombo2020
Doomsday 5th Maxtortion
Cloudpost 6th Into_Play
RUG Delver 7th Kiyoaggro
U/R Delver 8th Oceansoul92

This is certainly an interesting Top 8, but there's definitely a lot of Delver here. As previously noted, however, it's solid to see repeat performances from players like Into_Play, and it's awesome to see friends of mine such as Maxtortion and also solid players like Kanican.

At the end of it all, however, it was Snowko that indeed took things down. Let's take a look.

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This is the fairly common variant of this deck, the BUG splash White variant, with a minor Red splash in the sideboard for Blast effects. One nice thing here is the presence of main deck Cling to Dust, a card that has a lot of really powerful utility in the current format of things like Uro and friends.

The other finalist of this event was none other than Kanican on U/W Bomberman.

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Gyruda is definitely a strong Companion for this deck, and Kanican has been certainly killing it on this deck, repeatedly performing super well in premier level events with this shell. Major congrats on their work really paying off for a spot in the Showcase Qualifier!

Also in the Top 8 here is our good friend Maxtortion on a sweet Grixis Doomsday variant.

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Being able to sideboard out of Doomsday into a Xerox Dreadhorde Arcanist type deck is honestly really super cool. This seems like a fun way to approach the archetype's bad or worse matchups by giving it a game plan that isn't as combo-focused. Pretty cool list overall.

Outside of the Top 8, we have to give a shout out to one of the G.O.A.T. players of the Legacy format and Depths Combo in one Thomas Hepp (Negator77).

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This list is sweet, and has been a list that Tom has been pushing for some time now and doing very well with known as "Rainbow Depths". Being able to cast all your spells thanks to rainbow mana lands is pretty strong, but also not having to worry about colors for cards like Stifle and Flusterstorm is super sweet.

Also outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by Worldgorger Dragon Combo.

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Dragon is such a super cool deck and is one of the more positively interesting things to come out of the Snowko shell of cards in the past two years. The primary kill condition of this deck is Duskmantle Guildmage, as going through the combo itself is pretty click intensive on Magic Online so using Duskmantle is a far easier kill (activate the first ability a bunch of times and then start activating the second ability).

Ban Watch & Data Project

We had two more Challenges, so we get to add another two events to our chart. At some point, I am likely to make this chart obsolete with a new data project I'm working on collecting resources for (that we'll talk about after we talk about the chart), but for now, let's take a look.

Things seem to be relatively consistent in play at the moment with the cards everyone wants to talk about. I don't know that we can easily draw any real super strong conclusions about these cards at this point other than the fact that they're popular and they see play. If anything, Plague Engineer can likely be taken off of this list because the level of play it really sees is small and while it is an impactful card in the matchups it is played in, it really isn't busting the format apart.

This being said, I want to touch on two things. The first of which is the fact that we have another upcoming Legacy Round Table wrapping up the year 2020 very very soon. This one is promised to be pretty stacked, and will give 2020 a really solid wrapping from the standpoint of this column.

The other thing I want to touch on is the idea of data collection and how we can use it to improve our knowledge of the Legacy format and the ongoing metagame. One of the biggest barriers to this is that we only get access to the Top 32 Metagame breakdowns of these events officially.

A project that the Vintage Discord has been doing for some time is collecting data on the Vintage Challenges by watching replays of the events and recording the data in spreadsheets as to what players are playing. I am in the process of starting a similar project to collect similar data on the Legacy Challenges. This process is exceptionally tedious and a lot of work because it's very manual and crowdsourced (as the event replays are only available to players in the event and only if they don't close the event window after the event has ended), but in the long run being able to provide a better and complete look at the metagame will be a great thing to push discussion on the format. If you are a player who plays regularly in any number of Legacy Challenge events and you are capable of spending the time to watch replays of the event, please reach out and let me know! I've set up a Discord server for this project, so if you are interested please reach out!

Around the Web

  • Our good friends at Eternal Durdles have a new episode up! Check that out over here.
  • The October/November editions of Maverick Monthly are now up. Go check those out here.
  • Jarvis Yu with 4C Court of Cunning! Check it out here.
  • 90sMTG continues to turn it up with Death's Shadow w/ Opposition Agent vs Jund Phoenix. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

ANT with Fae of Wishes and Wheel of Misfortune. Sweeet.

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U/W Tempo with Court of Grace is something for sure.

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Aria of Flame Miracles is super sweet.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm feeling very fast this week, so probably gonna play a little Oops!

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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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