Legacy decks these days do nothing, and not in the Null Rod kind of way. At the previous two SCG opens Maverick, UW Miracles, and Stoneblade covered over half of the Top 8. While all three decks do have ways to interact with combo, none of them have enough of a clock supported by disruption to consistently beat combo decks. As long as the metagame continues in this direction, now is the perfect time to play combo. Let’s look at some of the options for Legacy combo decks.
First, and unfortunately least, is Elves. The biggest problem with Elves is its vulnerability to removal in addition to other disruption. All three of the aforementioned decks have Swords to Plowshares. Miracles and Stoneblade even have Terminus. There are benefits to a creature-based combo deck. The ability to beatdown when the combo is disrupted, and the potential to grind opponents out with Elvish Visionary and Wirewood Symbiote is valuable, but I do not believe they outweigh the costs. If you do want to play Elves, it is important that the grind-out, beatdown plan be legitimate. With that in mind, a Mirror Entity build seems like the way to go right now. The build designed by Chris Anderson (the same one Channel’s own Caleb Durward has had success with) seems like a great starting point:
While I like the tenor of this list, there are a couple of choices I dislike. Humility in the sideboard was good at a time, but not while Show and Tell decks have a creatureless kill in Omniscience. In addition, I've never liked Priest of Titania in Elves. A two-mana card, with no immediate board impact, that often just eats a removal spell is not what I want in this deck, even if untapping with it does usually lead to victory. I would max out on Quirion Rangers instead.
Next up is Ad Nauseam—one of the better positioned combo decks in Legacy. It goldfishes quickly. It has discard to fight through disruption and help win the combo mirror. The majority of Storm lists have recently turned to the Gitaxian Probe/Cabal Therapy synergy to compliment Duress. This package makes Ad Nauseam much better as you do not have to lose the life from Thoughtseize, and Probe can often be cast for mana.
One element players do seem to disagree on is the inclusion of Burning Wish. The list that took down Grand Prix Ghent had Wishes, but the majority of other recent lists popping up in Top 8s have not had them. Overall, I haven’t been a big fan of Wish in Storm since it doesn’t find Ad Nauseam and isn’t great at finding Ill-Gotten Gains when it removes itself from the game. Some people have been championing Dread of Night in the sideboard against Maverick, but missing Ethersworn Canonist seems like a huge downside. I prefer boarding in a mix of bounce and Massacre. Some Miracle and Stoneblade decks are boarding Counterbalance, and I think the best way to beat it is Doomsday for Shelldock Isle and Emrakul. Here’s a list I recommend:
Trying to make a version of this deck with Doomsday main is certainly reasonable. Throughout Legacy’s existence, combo players have generally agreed that if anyone ever finds a way to properly construct and play Doomsday, it will be good. Unfortunately, this is so difficult to do that no one has managed to pull it off yet. If any of you brave souls have enough time on your hands to tune and tweak the deck to death, godspeed.
Ad Nauseam is not the only combo deck killing via storm these days. While I have not had a chance to play with it yet, I am really excited by the look of the Show and Tell/Omniscience deck that has been making waves. Sneak and Show is quite powerful, but is vulnerable to a lot of cards like Humility. Omniscience offers Show and Tell decks a much needed alternate win condition with the Petals of Insight/Grapeshot kill. My only problem with this deck is its weakness to opposing disruption. Daze is easy to play around and Force of Will may not be sufficient. I would start with Simon Gortzen’s list from GP Ghent and tweak from there:
The list definitely looks like a solid start, but there are a couple different things I’d like to try. First, a black splash for Thoughtseize seems like a good way to squeeze in another real disruption spell. Daze is easy to play around and not particularly good in a deck that wants to hit its first three land drops. Second, the Burning Wish for Living Wish for Emrakul plan seems a bit too cute. If you have Omniscience in play you can just Wish for Petals, keep casting it until you find a second Wish, and then Grapeshot them out. If you don’t have Omniscience, Burning Wish for Living Wish for Emrakul just to find something to put in with Show and Tell is probably too slow. In addition, it saves a sideboard slot to just run Time of Need instead. If Omniscience really is vastly better than the other options for putting in under Show and Tell, I’d also be tempted to cut the Emrakul and Griselbrand from the main and play some tutor for Omniscience instead, like Enlightened Tutor.
While we’re on the topic of blue/red combo decks, I can’t figure out why Painter Stone ever fell off the radar. The deck has breakneck speed with the ability to grind people out with Goblin Welder. Like Visionary + Symbiote, Welder + Top is a great way to draw a steady stream of cards. In addition, unlike other blue/red combo decks, Painter actually gets to play Red Elemental Blast main deck because Painter on blue allows it to counter or kill anything. The two biggest downsides to Painter are that like Elves, it is vulnerable to removal and it can lose to random things like Emrakul. Unlike Elves, Terminus is not as big of a problem, because you kill the turn you cast Painter, but Swords is a big issue. As far as Emrakul goes, the good news is that Relic of Progenitus is a pretty solid main deck choice. You can activate Relic with the Emrakul trigger on the stack to make sure the opponent actually gets decked. Here’s a potential list of Painter:
One potential direction for Painter could be a hybridization with Omniscience. Both decks are blue/red, want lots of library manipulation and tutors, and like two-mana lands. My guess is the hybridization would probably involve an Omniscience main deck with Intuition and Top instead of the traditional tutors, and Painter, Stone, and maybe Welder in the board. Once people see Omniscience and board out removal, Painter and Welder will be safe to dominate. It might look like:
As long as all the fair decks in Legacy are fighting each other, combo has a great chance to dominate. There is no better feeling than casting a Dark Ritual when your opponent’s hand contains Terminus, Swords to Plowshares, or Lightning Bolt. However, finding the best combo deck isn’t always easy. Hopefully one of these ideas on directions to take some of the best combo decks in Legacy will help you take down your next Legacy event.