Hello everyone! Once again, many things have changed since my last analysis.
Most prominently, Dig Through Time was banned and the Eldrazi were unleashed on Legacy. Death and Taxes also received a few new toys, and time will tell if those are enough to finally push it into tier 1 status. I decided to start this analysis with Shadows over Innistrad, as Eldrazi had firmly cemented itself as a top tier deck, and there weren’t enough other big changes since then. Another big change since last year is that the Japanese metagame is beginning to shape up with multiple big events every quarter. I’ve noticed a variety of cool rogue strategies coming from there, and I’m hopeful I will see more going forward. Data source for the analysis was MTGDecks.net.
For this analysis, I am defining “top finishing deck” as finishing in the top 10% of tournaments with 75+ players. This methodology means that we are looking at a winner’s metagame, not necessarily a complete metagame. I consider decks like Death and Taxes and DeathBlade as the “control” decks of the format, although they obviously have many creatures. In general, I look at the deck and ask if the general philosophy is to play a controlling game or an aggressive game and then place it in its appropriate category. There are decks that are more “midrange” in scope and can play both aggro and control roles, but I decided to stick to aggro, control, and combo to keep things simple. The percentages are the number of top decks in the archetype divided by the total number of top finishing decks.
|Pyromancer Grixis Delver||37||7.4%|
|Gurmag Grixis Delver||2||0.4%|
|Death and Taxes||23||4.6%|
|Sneak and Show||18||3.6%|
Here are the top performing decks since the release of Shadows over Innistrad:
- Miracles (16.6%)
- Eldrazi (8.0%)
- Pyromancer Grixis Delver (7.4%)
- Shardless BUG (7.2%)
- ANT (5.6%)
- Death and Taxes (4.6%)
- Sneak and Show (3.6%)
- U/R Delver (3.6%)
- Infect (3.6%)
- Lands (3.4%)
- Elves (3.2%)
These 11 decks each have at least a 3% share of the winner’s metagame. In total, they make up 67% of the winner’s metagame.
Now, on to the top decks and my thoughts on each.
Miracles has been one of the top one or two decks since 2014, and its position on the throne looks more solid than ever. Despite the swift rise of the Eldrazi, which is one of Miracles’ worst matchups, it has managed to remain utterly dominant, totaling more in metagame share than both Eldrazi and Pyromancer Grixis Delver. Currently, there are a few variants of Miracles, with the recent Predict lists being the most popular. BBD wrote an excellent article covering the list so I won’t go into too much detail.
For once, I am okay with the current state of Legacy and would advocate for no changes to the Banned and Restricted list. Yes, Miracles is likely the best deck. But due to the recent adoption of Monastery Mentor, tournaments have generally ended on time without too much delay. Furthermore, I think there are enough strategies and cards currently seeing play that are strong against the archetype, and I do not feel as behind against it with Delver as I used to.
Out of the tier decks, Predict Miracles is favored against Pyromancer Grixis Delver, Shardless BUG, Lands, and Elves. It is close to even against ANT, Death and Taxes, Sneak and Show, UR Delver, and Infect. It is unfavored against Eldrazi. Take all of these with a strong grain of salt, though, as pilot skill is a far more important factor than the matchup itself. Miracles is a skill-intensive deck, and I think a good pilot would have a strong chance of beating any of these matchups. Conversely, a good player on a different deck who has tested the Miracles matchup also has the ability to defeat the deck. Legacy has reached the point where knowing your deck, knowing which cards to sideboard, and playing well are is the keys to success. While this has always been the case, I believe the difficulty level of Legacy has gone up recently. Sensei’s Divining Top, Cabal Therapy, Gamble, and Recruiter of the Guard are all a few examples of skill-testing cards that see significant play.
Going back to Miracles, one of the key strengths of the deck lies in its flexibility. It has access to Blood Moon, Engineered Explosives, Wear // Tear and a variety of other tools to beat any of the cards that are good against it.
The newest kid on the block, Eldrazi, has wasted no time overrunning Legacy. Chalice of the Void has always been an excellent card, but there weren’t enough consistently powerful support cards to go along with it. Now, with the advent of Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher, as well as access to Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin, the deck has a potent mix of fast mana, devastating threats, and strong disruption. Furthermore, many lists play Cavern of Souls, which is excellent at blanking a huge swathe of the format’s interaction. There are a few variants of Eldrazi running around, from straight colorless to a white splash, featuring a whopping 8 Thalia’s.
Michael Scheffenacker, 1st Place in an Eternal Extravaganza Satellite Series
Eldrazi Displacer has great synergy with Flametongue Kavu, and it’s awesome to see one of Magic’s finest creatures taking down a Legacy tournament in 2016. The full set of Thalia’s puts extreme early pressure on the opponent, and this deck also has the ability to side in Swords to Plowshares against decks like the mirror, which is very powerful. Eldrazi has many more ways to evolve and there has even been a U/B build of Eldrazi that took down a separate Eternal Extravaganza Satellite event.
I’m glad there is a powerful stompy deck in the format as I think it increases format diversity. It’s also one of the cheapest tier 1 options in some time, and it is also one of the easier tier 1 decks to pilot. I’m glad a lot of Modern Eldrazi players have made the shift into Legacy, and I’m hopeful that Wizards continues this trend of printing powerful Eternal cards that shake up the metagame.
Against other tier decks, Eldrazi is favored against Miracles and ANT. It is even against Grixis Delver. It is unfavored against Shardless BUG and Lands. I’m not sure about matchups against Death and Taxes, Infect, Sneak and Show, U/R Delver, and Elves, but they are dependent on specific card choices and obviously player skill.
Pyromancer Grixis Delver (7.4%)
The new top Delver deck championed by Noah Walker, this monstrosity has achieved a unique blend of consistency, flexibility, and power. Need the best utility creature in the format? You have Deathrite Shaman. Need the best beatsick? Hello, Delver. Need card advantage and disruption? Pyromancer + Therapy is potent as ever. Need a big fatty? Goodbye Tarmogoyf, hello Gurmag Angler.
The threats in this deck are incredible, and the synergy of the spells is also high. The mana base is also solid, as it can operate smoothly on 2 lands.
“If I can cast my spells, I usually can’t lose”
Out of all of the Delver variants, I think this one has the most even matchups across the board. It is favored against ANT, Infect, and Sneak and Show. It is even against Eldrazi, Shardless BUG, Death and Taxes, U/R Delver, and Elves. It is unfavored against Miracles and Lands.
I am planning on writing an in-depth Delver primer, exploring the different options of Delver from Grixis to U/R to Gurmag Grixis Delver (with 4 Thought Scour) to 4-color Snapcaster Delver. I’ll save further analysis for that article, but I plan on tackling the pros and cons of the various Delver decks.
Shardless BUG (7.2%)
Shardless BUG has been the midrange option of choice for a long time, and it still remains a viable option. Personally, I am not a big fan of the clunky draws, but it does admittedly have a strong Eldrazi matchup. But it is no longer favored against the new Predict Miracles variants as those decks can keep up in card quantity and quality. Miracles also gets to play Pyroblast for Ancestral Visions, so the days where Shardless players were excited to face Miracles are now over. There has been a decline in the popularity of Shardless in recent months as Predict Miracles has become more popular, so we will see if this trend continues.
Overall, Shardless is a solid choice for the current metagame and again, playskill is going to be more important than deck selection in Legacy, so if drawing 3 cards is your cup of tea, Shardless remains a viable option.
ANT is still an excellent choice, if you can figure out how to play the Miracles matchup. In my experience, the matchup is fairly even if both players are excellent, with ANT possibly even being favored. But if the ANT player is inexperienced, they are likely to be slaughtered even by a mediocre Miracles pilot. ANT is the default combo deck of the format, and its powerful disruption and speed make it a personal favorite of mine.
Here is GP Prague Champion Rodrigo Togores’ latest list:
City of Solitude is a tool to fight off opposing Flusterstorms and other soft counters. It can only be interacted with on the combo turn with hard counters, so if Miracles gives ANT enough time to set up, City of Solitude can be a game winner by eliminating Miracles’ ability to interact on the stack.
ANT is favored against Shardless BUG, Lands, and Elves. ANT is even against Miracles and U/R Delver. ANT is unfavored against Eldrazi and Grixis Delver.
Death and Taxes (4.6%)
D&T remains a major player, and with the recent printings in Eternal Masters and Conspiracy 2, it is poised for a major incursion into the top tier of Legacy. I’ve seen Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate in action, and I think what was once an even matchup against Grixis Delver gets more difficult if the D&T player has access to Sanctum Prelate. As more cards enter the pool, D&T should also get cheaper, which may also have a significant effect on metagame share.
Sneak and Show (3.6%)
Sneak and Show has begun to incorporate Omniscience, which counters cards such as Endbringer that have been seeing play. It is also a faster avenue to victory and allows for the versatility with Cunning Wish.
Sneak and Show will always be a solid deck, but in general, you can beat it if you prepare your sideboard accordingly.
U/R Delver (3.6%)
Oath of the Gatewatch was notable for its introduction of the Eldrazi, but Stormchaser Mage also made waves. Along with Bedlam Reveler, U/R Delver-Burn has received a few new tools. Stormchaser Mage gives the deck another powerful hasty threat and the deck is one of the most consistent aggressive options in the format. Bedlam Reveler is also an excellent way to refuel, with the potential to be as powerful as a 4-for-1. But the restrictive casting cost means that it will never be as dominant as Treasure Cruise.
Infect (3.6%), Lands (3.4%), and Elves (3.2%)
Not too much to say here—these decks are very powerful and remain contenders for any tournament they enter.
I’m excited to see the continued evolution of Eldrazi, as well as how well D&T fares with its new toys. Playing well and knowing your deck is still the key to success in Legacy. I hope to continue writing Legacy-centric articles in the coming months as I know the Legacy community has seen a decrease in content. Here are a few article ideas I have been kicking around:
- Delver primer, an in-depth look into the different variants and their respective strengths and weaknesses.
- History of Legacy, Part 9.
- Other deck primers. – I have played most decks in Legacy but I would say I’m quite familiar with Lands and 4c Loam at the moment.
- Who’s the Beatdown? Legacy edition. Knowing your role and having a plan for executing that role.
- Sideboarding. I see many players ask for Legacy sideboard guides and why I think this is an easy way to set yourself up for failure.
Other ideas? I’m very open to suggestions!