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PV’s Playhouse – Legacy

Hello!

When I asked what I should write about this week, the overwhelming response was “Legacy,” because of GP DC. I don’t claim to be a Legacy “expert”—never have—but the true beauty of Legacy is that, regardless of what many people will tell you, it’s not very different from any other form of Magic. In my experience, if you’re a good Magic player, you don’t need a lot more to win in Legacy—some knowledge of the format and the decks is of course necessary, but it’s nothing that you can’t get in a couple of games. Keep in mind I’m not saying Legacy is easy—it’s definitely not. You have many important decisions at every point in the game, including which land you play on turn one, and making the wrong one could easily cost you. I’m just saying it’s not a different skill than the one you should normally use for other formats.

My idea with this article is to help those people who play Magic but don’t generally play Legacy. I’m not going to tell you which deck to play, and I’m also not going to talk about any deck in too much depth, but I’m going to try to cover the major archetypes, why I like or dislike them and what you should do if you want to beat them.

The first thing to keep in mind when preparing for a Legacy tournament is that the Legacy metagame is really diverse. When you prepare for a tournament, it’s natural to look at previous tournaments/articles and try to see what the latest “trend” is. Though you can certainly do that with Legacy, it’s far less effective because the most popular deck is, well, never really popular. You will see that Show and Tell decks (particularly [card]Sneak Attack[/card]/[card]Show and Tell[/card]) are very popular now (with many people even clamoring for bans), and Death and Taxes won the latest Legacy Championship, but if you gave me a deck that had a horrible matchup against both Sneak and Show and Death and Taxes, I would still not have a problem with it, because I doubt each of those decks will be more than 10% of the metagame. There are three main reasons for this:

1) There are many possible decks in the format. It’s natural that, when you can play with 10,000 cards, you have a lot of choices. Even if I particularly like a style of deck, such as combo, I have many viable options, as opposed to Standard where, for example, everyone who likes control is forced to play Esper, UB, or UW.

2) Legacy has existed for a very long time, and new sets don’t impact it as heavily as they do new formats. Again, this is natural. When you insert 100 cards into a pool of 500, that’s a lot more important than 100 in 10,000.

More importantly, cards do not rotate out. Because of this, a lot of people just pick a deck and stick to it forever. There are guys who play Merfolk every tournament, there are guys who play Lands every tournament, and so on. People like those decks, they have the cards, they know how to play them, they’ve been playing them for ages, and they will play them again, it doesn’t matter if they are good or not. In my experience, people in Standard or Modern will abandon a deck that they think is not well positioned and will converge on a deck that is perceived to be the most powerful, but people in Legacy will not do that.

3) Card availability is a real issue. Take, for example, Death and Taxes. It plays three [card]Karakas[/card]. [card]Karakas[/card] is a core part of the deck since it bounces your own legends, and it’s super important to that deck’s ability to fight the [card]Griselbrand[/card]/[card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] decks. Each [card]Karakas[/card] costs almost $100. It’s not only that, they’re also hard to find. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] costs a lot, but a lot of people have [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s, you can borrow them or buy them at any store. It’s not easy to borrow many [card]Karakas[/card]. How many people do you think have access to three [card]Karakas[/card]? Outside of groups of people with very large connections or sponsored by stores, I’d say very few. So if a group of 5 friends figure out that Death and Taxes is a good deck, are they going to find 15 [card]Karakas[/card]? Probably not. If they all want to play [card]Aluren[/card], will they get 20 [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card]s? How about 20 [card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card]s for Belcher? I doubt that. This leads to natural diversity in deck choices, even among groups that would, in other formats, be homogeneous. It also contributes to point two: people commit a lot to a deck, they don’t want to have to throw all of that away and play something else.

So, what can you take from that? Beating the best deck in Legacy is not required. It doesn’t matter how good Sneak and Show is and how much you’ve been reading about it lately, it will not be 25% of the format. If you have a good matchup against the deck, then great, but if you don’t it’s not that big a deal. Do not restrain yourself because of one matchup like you might in Standard or Modern.

That said, these are the decks I think you should know about:

The Combo Decks

Combo decks in Legacy are very powerful and very quick. They’re the main reason [card]Force of Will[/card] is such an important card in the format, and the reason I have a really hard time believing playing a non-blue “fair” deck is correct. In my mind, I’m either going to kill my opponent on turn two or stop them from killing me on turn two, and I have a very narrow definition of what “stops” them ([card]Force of Will[/card] is basically it). I think combo decks of most kinds are the best decks in Legacy right now and if I were going to the tournament I would probably play a combo deck.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is the most popular combo deck in Legacy:

Sneak and Show – William Jensem
2nd Place at StarCityGames.com Invitational on 10/27/2013

[deck]Main Deck
4 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
4 Griselbrand
3 Island
3 Ancient Tomb
2 City of Traitors
3 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Volcanic Island
4 Lotus Petal
4 Sneak Attack
4 Brainstorm
2 Daze
4 Force of Will
2 Misdirection
3 Spell Pierce
4 Ponder
2 Preordain
4 Show and Tell
Sideboard
3 Blood Moon
3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Echoing Truth
2 Red Elemental Blast
2 Through the Breach
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/deck]

This deck works by pairing [card]Show and Tell[/card] or [card]Sneak Attack[/card] with either of [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] or [card]Griselbrand[/card]. [card]Griselbrand[/card] is generally the preferred choice, since it beats almost anything they can throw at you, and with [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] you sometimes lose the very next turn. Brad’s winning version runs [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card], which I don’t think is the norm, so I’ve chosen Huey’s list to illustrate it. The sideboard in this deck is actually very mediocre. There is almost nothing you want to take out in any game and the cards you’re bringing in don’t have a huge impact.

This deck is very hard to disrupt. They have a lot of cheap (free!) counterspells to fight a counter war and they have many redundant pieces and card drawing spells to fight discard. More importantly, if you do manage to disrupt them, then they will just combo again two turns later. They don’t actually waste any resources by simply casting a Show and Tell and waiting to see if it resolves.

Against Show and Tell (and basically every combo deck), you need to pair disruption with pressure. It’s not enough to stop them from killing you—you must also eventually kill them. Most decks in Legacy are capable of doing that, since they run [card delver of secrets]Delvers[/card], [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s, [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]s, and [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]s, but there are some who think hating them out is enough, and it’s just not. Unless you have the actual best cards against them, they can eventually recover from anything, you can’t give them the time to do it.

The best way to beat this deck other than disruption + a very fast clock is with hate permanents. You’ll notice that, though this list has a lot of ways to beat spells, it has only two ways to beat a permanent—two sideboarded [card]Echoing Truth[/card]s. If you could somehow get a [card]Humility[/card] or [card]Ensnaring Bridge[/card] in play in game one, then the deck would have no outs. The beauty of permanent answers is that they can be played off of [card]Show and Tell[/card], so you can still win even if they manage to combo you on turn one, assuming you have those in hand.

Playing a deck that runs those super powerful cards but doesn’t play Show and Tell will also give you an edge—something like Reanimator can kill more quickly than even Show and Tell sometimes, and you can also play [card]Griselbrand[/card] and stop them if they ever cast Show and Tell. I know that when I practiced the Sneak and Show deck for GP Denver I kept getting paired against a guy who would bring a bunch of Emrakuls out of his Enchantress deck to try and beat my [card]Show and Tell[/card]s, so that’s a valid strategy, if not necessarily the most effective.

Death and Taxes is an example of a deck that tries to beat Show and Tell with permanents. It has [card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card], which can name either [card]Griselbrand[/card] or [card]Sneak Attack[/card] (though then you still need a way to deal with the 7/7 if you name [card]Griselbrand[/card]), and [card]Karakas[/card] which buys you a lot of time and is a hard lock with Revoker on [card]Sneak Attack[/card]. If you do not have Revoker, they can still kill you through [card]Karakas[/card], though—they simply activate [card]Sneak Attack[/card], put Emrakul into play, wait for you to bounce it, and then do it again. To stop that, you need to either stop Sneak Attack itself or go after their red sources, which is of course not easy if they have ever had a Griselbrand in play at any point.

The problem with permanent answers is that they’re bad against other combo decks—even other Show and Tell decks. If they cast Show and Tell and you put [card]Humility[/card] into play, you’ll feel very foolish if the card they selected is [card]Omniscience[/card]. Discards and counterspells work against all combo decks, but specific hate cards don’t even beat some other Show and Tell decks.

For reference, here is the other relatively popular Show and Tell deck:

OmniTell
Played by PJ Relova

[deck]Main Deck
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Intuition
4 Brainstorm
2 Pact of Negation
3 Cunning Wish
1 Impulse
4 Force of Will
2 Gitaxian Probe
4 Ponder
4 Show and Tell
4 Enter the Infinite
4 Preordain
3 Dream Halls
4 Omniscience
9 Island
4 Flooded Strand
3 City of Traitors
3 Polluted Delta
Sideboard
2 Defense Grid
3 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Firemind’s Foresight
1 Wipe Away
1 Release the Ants
1 Quicken
1 Noxious Revival
1 Intuition
1 Eladamri’s Call
1 Trickbind
1 Rapid Hybridization
1 Pact of Negation[/deck]

By basing itself on enchantments and not creatures, this deck manages to dodge most of the hate directed at Sneak and Show. Normally I would never advocate playing this deck since it’s basically a strictly worse deck in almost every regard—it’s slower and less consistent, and you also lose a lot of sideboard space for Wish (though admittedly the sideboard wasn’t good anyway), but it isbetter at beating the hate and it’s also better against other Show and Tell decks, so if there has ever been a moment to play this over Sneak and Show, GP DC is that moment.

Other playable combo decks you will find include:

Mark Tocco – Ad Nauseam Tendrils
Eternal Weekend Quarterfinals – Legacy

[deck]Main Deck
1 Badlands
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Island
4 Polluted Delta
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Swamp
1 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
1 Ad Nauseam
4 Brainstorm
4 Cabal Ritual
3 Cabal Therapy
4 Dark Ritual
4 Duress
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Infernal Tutor
1 Lim-Dul’s Vault
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
4 Lotus Petal
1 Past in Flames
4 Ponder
2 Preordain
1 Tendrils of Agony
Sideboard
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Chain of Vapor
3 Dark Confidant
1 Empty the Warrens
3 Massacre
3 Xantid Swarm[/deck]

This is probably the fastest deck in Legacy. It can kill turn one, though it takes a reasonable amount of luck. I’d estimate Shahar to kill turn one about a third of the games, and a normal person to do that once per tournament, maybe twice. What this deck gains in speed it gives up in resiliency. Since you need an actual big combination of cards, as opposed to a pair, it’s not that hard to disrupt. Discard, counterspells, and permanent-based hate all work relatively well, so if that’s what you want to beat you have a ton of options. To combat that, it has discard instead of the counterspells most combo decks play.

If you’ve never played this deck before, I do not recommend it for the tournament. It’s not like [card]Sneak Attack[/card] where the steps are relatively obvious, this is more like a puzzle that you have to solve every game and that’s not even considering the interactions from your opponent. This deck is not forgiving—if you fail, you will have spent all your resources and probably not have a chance to try again.

At a Legacy GP a while ago, I had an opponent go Mox, Petal, Ritual, Ritual only to realize they were actually a mana short off killing me. Then he played Repeal and drew the third Rite of Flame had to pass the turn and that basically ended all his chances to winning the game, since he never got to his critical mass of resources again. It’s not only about miscounting, either—playing against counterspells is very hard. Since you get no run backs, it’s very important to know when you need to go for it and when you should wait.

There’s also Elves:

Matthew Nass – Top 8, Grand Prix Denver:

[deck]Main Deck
2 Bayou
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Forest
4 Gaea’s Cradle
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Savannah
2 Verdant Catacombs
4 Windswept Heath
1 Birchlore Rangers
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Elvish Visionary
1 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Heritage Druid
1 Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
1 Priest of Titania
4 Quirion Ranger
1 Regal Force
4 Wirewood Symbiote
4 Glimpse of Nature
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Natural Order
Sideboard
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Gaddock Teeg
2 Mindbreak Trap
1 Natural Order
1 Progenitus
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Sylvan Library
1 Thorn of Amethyst[/deck]

Elves is a combo deck that can can easily win if it doesn’t combo—it’s almost a creature deck with a combo kill thrown in for good measure. The way it works is you play [card]Glimpse of Nature[/card], then a bunch of Elves, each of which replaces itself and adds mana by untapping [card]Nettle Sentinel[/card] with [card]Heritage Druid[/card]. Elves is also a hard deck to play, but I think it’s easier than Storm since you have less interaction, and if you fail to kill them you’re left with 15 power in play as opposed to one card in hand and zero permanents. If you goldfish for some hours with Elves you’re probably good to go, since you basically just do your thing.

If you want to beat Elves, I think your best bet is removal—[card]Punishing Fire[/card] and [card]Engineered Plague[/card] are good, but I think the best answers are wrath effects in general ([card]Perish[/card], [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], [card]Terminus[/card]), since they also deal with the [card]Progenitus[/card] plan. You need to be careful to have some sort of pressure or disruption to go with it, though, otherwise they can just sandbag 5 Elves in their hands and kill you in one turn before you have time to cast a sorcery.

If everyone is gunning for Show and Tell, Elves will be a decent deck—it should be able to overcome most of the hate thrown its way, and the [card]Natural Order[/card]/[card]Progenitus[/card] plan beats almost anything. The deck also got a huge plus with the new legend rule, since you can now activate two [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card]s in one turn.

I personally wouldn’t play Elves right now, but it is a real deck—you’re not the best against other combo decks, since you’re slower and don’t have much disruption (though [card]Cabal Therapy[/card] is very good) and you’re incidentally not great against Jund decks, especially if they run [card]Punishing Fire[/card], but you destroy most other “fair” decks and most blue-based decks too.

Reanimator
Robert Cucunato
1st Place at StarCityGames.com Legacy Open on 10/27/2013

[deck]Main Deck
1 Tidespout Tyrant
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
4 Griselbrand
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
2 Island
2 Swamp
2 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
4 Underground Sea
2 Verdant Catacombs
3 Lotus Petal
1 Animate Dead
4 Brainstorm
4 Entomb
4 Force of Will
4 Careful Study
3 Exhume
4 Ponder
4 Reanimate
2 Show and Tell
4 Thoughtseize
Sideboard
3 Pithing Needle
1 Inkwell Leviathan
1 Ashen Rider
1 Coffin Purge
2 Echoing Truth
2 Spell Pierce
1 Crippling Fatigue
2 Duress
2 Show and Tell[/deck]

Reanimator is super simple—throw a [card]Griselbrand[/card] in the graveyard and animate it. I think Reanimator is probably a good choice for the GP. Specific hate for the deck is at an all-time low and I think you should be favored against other Show and Tell decks, since you’re faster. You still have problems with random cards that are not meant for you—namely [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]—but you can always play [card]Show and Tell[/card] yourself as a way to deal with that, as well as a potential removal spell or two. I’ve seen some versions that play [card]Izzet Charm[/card], for example. Of course, you can always just kill them on turn two on the play and make that a moot point.

To beat Reanimator, you need mostly graveyard hate, though [card]Karakas[/card] is a huge issue for this deck since it does not play [card]Sneak Attack[/card] and has no way to get a guy back in play if it’s bounced.

The Delver Decks

The Delver decks are the decks that try to beat you with cheap, under-costed threats ([card]Tarmogoyf[/card], [card]Delver of Secrets[/card]) while playing a lot of cheap disruption spells. They also play a bunch of card drawing and card selection, so they can make sure to find a reasonable balance of threats and disruptions. Normally, the most famous Delver deck is RUG:

Richard Nguyen – RUG Delver
Eternal Weekend Quarterfinals – Legacy

[deck]Main Deck
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Tropical Island
3 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Nimble Mongoose
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
1 Fire and Ice
4 Force of Will
3 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Ponder
2 Spell Pierce
4 Stifle
Sideboard
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Flusterstorm
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Life from the Loam
2 Pyroblast
2 Rough and Tumble
3 Submerge
1 Sulfur Elemental
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Zuran Orb[/deck]

This is from the Legacy Champs Top 8. There is also the second place UR Delver deck:

Osyp Lebedowicz – UR Delver
Eternal Weekend Finals – Legacy

[deck]Main Deck
4 Flooded Strand
2 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Grim Lavamancer
3 True-Name Nemesis
3 Young Pyromancer
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
1 Forked Bolt
3 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Ponder
3 Spell Pierce
3 Stifle
Sideboard
3 Blood Moon
1 Flusterstorm
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Spell Pierce
4 Submerge
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Vendilion Clique[/deck]

This take on the deck is kind of new, since [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] was just printed. I don’t think the card is as good as [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] (it’s certainly much worse against any combo), but it does outclass [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] against many fair decks, so maybe it’s worth trying—you also get to shave a color which is a plus, and it makes people look very silly for having [card]Submerge[/card] in their board.

All in all, I don’t like these decks. To me, they’ve always seemed incredibly weak. I know they keep winning, but I just don’t see how they’re good against non-combo. It feels like this deck is a combination of horrible late game cards without the tools to stop the game from going long. Can you imagine drawing any spell in this deck after turn 7 or 8, when the opponent has 5 or 6 lands in play? Half of them don’t actually do anything—they’re cheap reactive cards that get totally outclassed as the game goes on.

At the same time, you don’t have enough pressure to make sure the game won’t go long—you have some guys, but what if they die? What if the opponent also has guys? What if 3 damage a turn isn’t enough? These decks seem like they have to hope and mise a win out of their [card]Wasteland[/card]/[card]Stifle[/card]s, and if they don’t, then they can’t actually beat anyone.

I think, therefore, that the best way to beat this deck is to simply not lose to your own mana base. If that doesn’t happen, then just playing real cards should give you an edge—you will have time to play around [card]Daze[/card]s, [card]Stifle[/card]s, and [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s. The big presence of [card]Wasteland[/card] (which is also played in many other decks, not just Delver) means you should probably have access to a basic land to search for, possibly more. Every time I’ve played Legacy I’ve run at least one Island in my deck. You should also remember to actually search for basic lands with your fetchlands, probably more often than you currently do.

Another card to keep in mind when considering mana bases is [card]Stifle[/card]. In general, I’m not a fan of the card. It basically tries to mise a free win but is bad in every other spot. Don’t get me wrong, I like free wins just like everyone else, but not when they come at the cost of being very bad if you aren’t getting a free win. Whenever I have [card]Stifle[/card] in my deck, I feel like throwing a party every time I can actually cast it—I feel like I’m going to target literally anything I can and be happy that I got something out of the card.

[card]Stifle[/card] creates an interesting scenario with fetchlands. Imagine your hand is a 2-drop, a fetchland, and a dual. If you fetch main phase, you run the risk of getting [card]Wasteland[/card]ed; if you fetch on their turn, you run the risk of getting [card]Stifle[/card]d. The solution, of course, is to fetch for a basic on your turn. If you can’t do that, then I will always pass against an unknown opponent.

If I know for a fact that they have [card]Stifle[/card], it’s going to depend on how useful I think [card]Stifle[/card] is likely to be. If my next land is also a fetchland, well, I can’t really play around it. If I’m playing a combo deck against which [card]Stifle[/card] is good, then I want them to cast it on my land, and so on. If [card]Stifle[/card] is bad against me and the card’s sole purpose is getting one of my fetchlands, then I try to play around it.

The Non-Blue “Fair” Decks

By fair decks, I mean decks that aren’t doing anything degenerate that you would expect of a format that lets you play cards like Show and Tell. The first of those decks is all hate bears. Normally when I think of “Hate Bears” I think of GW, but the most popular hate bear deck right now is actually Death and Taxes (beats me as to why it’s called that—if you gave me 20 guesses I probably wouldn’t figure out that a deck called Death and Taxes is actually mono-white). Here is the winning list at Legacy Champs:

Death and Taxes
Ari Lax
1st Place – Legacy Champs on 11/3/2013

[deck]Main Deck
4 Phyrexian Revoker
2 Aven Mindcensor
1 Fiend Hunter
3 Flickerwisp
3 Mirran Crusader
4 Mother of Runes
4 Stoneforge Mystic
2 Mangara of Corondor
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
8 Plains
1 Cavern of Souls
2 Horizon Canopy
4 Rishadan Port
4 Wasteland
1 Eiganjo Castle
3 Karakas
4 Aether Vial
1 Batterskull
4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
Sideboard
1 Cursed Totem
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Manriki-Gusari
1 Meekstone
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
2 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Rest in Peace
1 Serenity
2 Enlightened Tutor
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Sunlance[/deck]

As you can see, this deck is a combination of highly unplayable cards that would probably not see any play in Block Constructed if they were legal. My personal opinion is that if I’m allowed to play almost any card in Magic, there is no way my list is going to include [card]Flickerwisp[/card] and [card]Fiend hunter[/card], but there is no denying that, while not exactly my cup of tea, this deck is effective—it won the last Legacy GP and also Legacy Champs.

The main problem with the deck (other than every card you play sucks) is that the hate is somewhat specific. Again, cards like [card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card] and [card]Karakas[/card] will help you against [card]Sneak Attack[/card], but what if they are the [card]Omniscience[/card] version? Thalia is fantastic against Storm, but what if they are playing Elves (which you probably can’t ever beat game one, by the way)? What if they are playing a “fair” deck, but not one of the fair decks you expect?

Overall, there is too much that can go wrong in a 15-round tournament with over a thousand players for me to recommend this deck. I will give it one thing, though—the sideboard is surprisingly good for a mono-white deck, with multiple answers to the problems you might face.

The second “fair” deck is Jund:

Jund
Pat Cox
Grand Prix Denver – 2nd place

[deck]Main Deck
3 Badlands
2 Bayou
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Swamp
1 Taiga
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
3 Wooded Foothills
3 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dark Confidant
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Abrupt Decay
3 Hymn to Tourach
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Sylvan Library
4 Thoughtseize
4 Liliana of the Veil
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Duress
3 Engineered Plague
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Life from the Loam
1 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Pyroblast
2 Umezawa’s Jitte[/deck]

Jund is basically what it always is—play some discard, some removal, some good creatures, and hope it’s enough. Pat Cox didn’t play [card]Punishing Fire[/card], but you can certainly do that to have even better game against the creature decks.

I’m also, unsurprisingly, not a fan of this deck. I think you can simply do better in this format. The best way to beat Jund is probably to go over the top of them—they will beat almost any other deck in a fair game, but they don’t have any ways to deal with degenerate cards other than discard. If playing something super powerful is not an option, then you can try to win on quantity. Cards like [card]Ancestral Vision[/card] are very good against Jund because they trade a lot with you and you can actually use all resources in the late game, including lands (since they have [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card], and [card]Wasteland[/card]). If you’re combo and struggling with discard, you can try [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card]; I rather liked it when I played it.

The sideboard for this deck is Ok, but not great. It has a bunch of cards that you will bring in against multiple people, but nothing really backbreaking, which is what I look for in a deck that is naturally soft to combo.

The Blue “Control” Decks

The term “control” is a stretch. I’m basically talking about all the non-tempo blue decks. Those have historically been my favorite decks to play. Throughout all of my Legacy history (which is not many tournaments but spawns a lot of years), I’ve played Sneak and Show once (last GP), BUG Landstill once (the GP before that), Cephalid Breakfast once (at Worlds), and a blue Top/[card]Counterbalance[/card] deck of some sort in every other tournament—usually with some random cards from a pool of [card tarmogoyf]Goyfs[/card], [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card], and [card]Dark Confidant[/card]s. [card]Counterbalance[/card] has fallen out of favor nowadays, since [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] stops it cold, but similar decks still exist and are still good.

I like those decks more than the Delver decks because they are also capable of applying pressure, but they do not sacrifice their mid-to-late game for that. You get fewer free wins, but you win a lot more games when you don’t get them and I’m not a gambling man. There are two decks like this that are popular nowadays:

BUG
Alex Gonzalez
1st Place at StarCityGames.com Legacy Open on 10/27/2013

[deck]Main Deck
4 Shardless Agent
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 Bayou
2 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Polluted Delta
2 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Wasteland
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
3 Force of Will
4 Ancestral Vision
3 Hymn to Tourach
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Thoughtseize
Sideboard
2 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Baleful Strix
1 Disfigure
1 Force of Will
2 Swan Song
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Thoughtseize[/deck]

This is a card advantage deck if I’ve ever seen one—it plays [card]Ancestral Vision[/card], [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card], [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card], [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], and [card]Shardless Agent[/card], which means you can often trade resources even against decks like Jund. In fact, this is basically a Jund deck, except with [card]Force of Will[/card] and better card advantage. I consider the BUG decks to be almost strict upgrades to Jund decks.

The other popular deck is Esper Stoneblade:

Vidianto Wijaya
Grand Prix Denver

[deck]Main Deck
1 Academy Ruins
4 Flooded Strand
2 Island
1 Karakas
2 Marsh Flats
1 Plains
3 Polluted Delta
1 Scrubland
1 Swamp
3 Tundra
3 Underground Sea
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Batterskull
4 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
1 Engineered Explosives
3 Force of Will
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Lingering Souls
1 Ponder
2 Spell Pierce
1 Supreme Verdict
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Thoughtseize
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Vindicate
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sideboard
1 Cabal Therapy
1 Darkblast
1 Disenchant
1 Force of Will
3 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Perish
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Spell Pierce
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Zealous Persecution[/deck]

This deck is a little slower than BUG. It has no [card]Deathrite Shamans[/card] and basically exchanges [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] for [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], which makes it worse against combo decks where you really want to pressure them quickly. In exchange, you have access to the broken [card]Batterskull[/card]/[card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] engine, which will win you games against certain aggro decks that [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] never would. You also lose [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] as your catchall answer, but you can afford to play more and more varied counterspells because there is no risk of cascading into them. I think if you expect a ton of combo this is not a great deck to play, but it’s good against other fair decks.

The biggest strength this kind of deck has is that it can deal with anything—there is no matchup that is dreadful, nothing you really don’t want to play against and no sideboard cards that destroy you. The main problem with them is that there is no deck that you just slaughter, and most of your games are super close. This is often not a bad thing, since it rewards you for being a good player, but it becomes a bad thing when there are such broken alternatives in the format. If you’re looking for easy wins, broken things, and very good matchups, these are not the decks for you. If you are fine with a deck that is 50-55% against everything, go ahead.

Then, we have the only actual control deck in the format:

UWR Miracles
Paul Lynch
Eternal Weekend Quarterfinals – Legacy

[deck]Main Deck
2 Arid Mesa
4 Flooded Strand
4 Island
1 Karakas
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mystic Gate
2 Plains
2 Scalding Tarn
3 Tundra
2 Volcanic Island
1 Vendilion Clique
4 Brainstorm
3 Counterbalance
1 Counterspell
1 Detention Sphere
1 Energy Field
2 Enlightened Tutor
1 Entreat the Angels
3 Force of Will
1 Helm of Obedience
1 Misdirection
2 Rest in Peace
4 Sensei’s Divining Top
2 Spell Pierce
3 Swords to Plowshares
4 Terminus
1 Vedalken Shackles
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sideboard
1 Blood Moon
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Flusterstorm
1 Humility
3 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Misdirection
1 Pithing Needle
1 Pyroblast
1 Pyroclasm
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Rest in Peace
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Wear and Tear[/deck]

This is your quintessential control deck. It runs a bunch of removal, some counterspells (not enough in my opinion), and card draw. The idea is to lock them under [card]Counterbalance[/card]/[card sensei’s divining top]Top[/card] by countering everything relevant that they play (against [card]Show and Tell[/card], for example, if you get a 3 and a 4 in there—which you can with [card]Enlightened Tutor[/card]—it’s game over) and then eventually you kill them with the [card]Helm of Obedience[/card]/[card]Rest in Peace[/card] combo (or any other way, really). [card]Enlightened Tutor[/card] gets either piece of either combo, sets up [card]Counterbalance[/card]s, and also gets the [card]Rest in Peace[/card]/[card]Energy Field[/card] soft lock in place.

The biggest flaw with this deck is that it has no pressure. Right now, its only form of pressure really is the Counterbalance/Top lock. You need to extend the game until you can get that into play. It doesn’t matter how many answers you have, eventually you’ll run out of them, and you naturally give your opponent all the time in the world to sculpt their combo perfectly. For this reason, I tend to prefer the versions that skew slightly more towards aggression, though I do think [card]Terminus[/card] is a great card in this format, especially against Death and Taxes (you have Top, Jace, and Brainstorm to ensure you can miracle it).

Well, that’s about what I have for you. To sum it up:

• I think combo decks are the best decks in Legacy right now, and I think they’re all playable, though some of them require a degree of familiarity before you choose to play them in the tournament. If I were going, I’d probably play a combo deck.

• Other than combo decks, I think the non-Delver blue decks are the best. They have game against everything; they play powerful cards; and they have good early, middle, and late game, which is not true for most Delver versions. You have no awesome matchups and no horrible matchups.

• I don’t like the Delver decks. I think they have to play too many bad cards and cards that get outclassed too quickly.

– I would stay away from any deck that is fair and does not play blue. I think [card]Brainstorm[/card] is the best card in the format, and I like having access to [card]Force of Will[/card] in a format where people can do almost anything they want. This is partially biased by personal preference, but part of that personal preference comes from the fact that I like winning and I don’t think the non-blue fair decks win as much, even though some of them have been doing well lately.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this, see you next week!
PV

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