After a bit of a hiatus, I’m back! I’ve only played in a couple of events since I left for Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, but now I’ve been battling quite a bit of Magic the past couple of weeks. In fact, I’ve been enjoying a format I don’t get to play much: Legacy.
When I used to think of Legacy, I thought of degenerate combo decks killing people on the first turn of the game. I think of blue decks with Brainstorm. After that, I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that the format is a lot more diverse. Here are the first 10 decks I played against when I started playing Legacy online a couple of weeks back. Note that the deck names are what I called them before I looked their “real titles” up.
- Mono-Red Prison
- G/B Dark Depths
- R/U/G Delver
- Mono-Blue Wizard Tribal
- Death and Taxes
- Sneak and Show
- Grixis Delver
I didn’t know some of these decks existed! I spent plenty of time reading cards, and I’ve been playing Magic for almost 9 years now. I play a ton of Cube to learn old cards—that still required me to read things like Dark Depths, Patron Wizard, Mother of Runes, Umezawa’s Jitte, and the like. During the discovery phase of Legacy, I decided to start writing about it on my twitter (@Corey_Burkhart) and titled it “Legacy Diary.” It let me look at it like a journal, and reflect on my matches. What is important in these games, and what am I really learning?
Entering a new format in Magic, or a new aspect of life, is challenging. There’s an overwhelming amount of information to take in. Trying to figure out what matters and what is extraneous is both important and difficult to do. You want to make sure that you’re spending your time as best as you can to catch up to those who have devoted the time and hours to learning what you need to learn. When it applied to me in Legacy, I needed to figure out:
- What decks are actually good.
- How do the good decks function and what makes the good decks different from the bad ones?
- How to attack the good decks.
- Find the deck that gives me the best chance to win.
After each game, I make some notes to myself. What went wrong in that game, and what went well? Were there any cards that over or underperformed? Did I play against a new deck? Should I do some research on different threats/different answers? Is there a different way I can be approaching these matchups?
You’ll see some of these questions I ask to make myself think more about my process. Others are quick notes of cards I’m on the fence over. Preparing like this allows you, in the moment, to do your best in the match at hand and stay focused on the important aspects of the game or the tournament. After the tournament, or the match, you can spend the time you need asking yourself the hard questions about what you can do better. This is both important during the initial testing and discovery of a format, as well as when trying to find the best 75-card configuration of your deck.
Where did this leave me? I’m playing Legacy at a single Grand Prix. I’m unlikely to be playing it in the Pro Tour, so part of Grand Prix Seattle this weekend will be about enjoying myself, but I really want to do some winning along the way. This led me to look at some control decks and Delver decks, as they’re what I’ve played before, along with a little Storm. I took some ideas and started from a list Clashed used to 7-0 the Swiss portion of a Legacy Challenge on MTGO. Here’s their list for reference:
I absolutely love it. The deck is all over the place and has an answer to every problem I can imagine, but also plays a bunch of the best cards in Legacy. I built the deck, and began trying tons of different things. At first, I hated Dack Fayden. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how such a card got into the deck. I didn’t want to loot, I wanted card advantage, and I wanted a way to get ahead of my opponents. This was the first moment where I realized that I was looking at Legacy all wrong.
In Legacy, there are many different forms of card advantage. There’s raw cards. There’s mana development (basics that don’t get Wastelanded are really important in this format). Then there’s the card advantage of setting up an insurmountable combo. You may not look at it this way, but I found that each deck was looking for a different form of card advantage—raw cards, mana, specific pieces—and it changed how I approached a normal game. These are things, if you focus on Limited, you think about. Looting away excess lands with a rummaging/looting effect gets you “card advantage” in the long run as you flood out less, playing an Explosive Vegetation gets you mana advantage in your multicolor ramp deck, and trying to get together your Horseshoe Crab and Retraction Helix is its own form of card advantage when you get to bounce your opponent’s whole team with just one of your spells.
I started to understand that Dack was about finding my specific cards for specific matchups—my Thoughtseizes against Sneak and Show, my Punishing Fires against Delver, and my planeswalkers against Miracles. I started really liking the card. There was no putting it aside—Deathrite was the real piece of glue that held the deck together, I was trying to put BB/UU/RR and green cards in my deck in a format where the best decks sometimes have four copies of Wasteland, but the cards I evaluated as bad at first started to grow on me.
I started to learn that Brainstorm meant different things in different matchups. On turn 1-2 against combo, it’s all about finding whatever your specific answers are before your opponent assembles their pieces. In the fair matchups, it’s all about shuffling away extra components you don’t need/want in the matchup. Simply put, each card has very defined goals in Legacy, as opposed to Modern where you want your cards to be very broad and answer a lot of different potential solutions. The different things going on in Legacy are broad, but they’re so powerful that you need a specific tool to stop them.
After a couple of weeks of testing, this is what I’m likely to submit for GP Seattle—a 4-color control deck that I’ve been having an absolute blast with:
Looking at the deck, there’s no question why I love it: Kolaghan’s Command, Rise // Fall, and Snapcaster Mage! I mean, come on, right!? What’s not to love here? I’ve been having an absolute ball playing Legacy. I think that all three major Constructed formats are a blast to play as long as you’re playing a deck that interests you. Enjoy Magic right now, as it is in an absolutely wonderful spot. I’ve had people play turn-1 Griselbrand against me and lose. I’ve had no permanents on turn 5 of a match and won. I’ve had opponents put Rancor on their 20/20 indestructibles and kill me. The format is amazing.
But I’ve got a tournament to prepare for! And you’ll get to see a League with it later this week. I hope I do some winning to get us back on the right track for this series and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this crazy deck and Legacy in the comments!