I haven’t played Legacy since Grand Prix Columbus in June of last year. Even though Legacy changes at about the same rate as a snail riding a glacier while spinning Sensei’s Divining Top on each end step, there are still some differences in what the format looked like back then from what it looks like right now. I’ve begun the process of preparing for GP Louisville, and I've observed some updates to Legacy over the past 6 months.
Sneak and Show is a Deck Again
This is a recent 5-0 list from Brandon Burton, or sandydogmtg as he is known on Magic Online. Sneak and Show kind of fell off the radar entirely for a while in Legacy, but it has come back with a vengeance as of late. Sneak and Show put two copies into the Top 8 of the most recent Legacy GP in Chiba, including Kentaro Yamamoto winning the whole thing.
For a while, cards like Containment Priest or Ensnaring Bridge weren’t really worth having in the sideboard, but those days are long past. I wouldn’t recommend showing up to a tournament these days without a plan for Sneak and Show. And if you’re playing a deck with minimal interaction, that plan might just be “dodge it.”
Aluren is a Real Deck and Actually Good
At first, I saw Aluren lists doing well that were 4-color versions splashing white for Recruiter of the Guard. Those versions were fairly combo-oriented. They relied on Recruiter of the Guard and long-time competitive all-star Arctic Merfolk to assemble the combo of Cavern Harpy and Parasitic Strix to drain the opponent out.
Recently, the lists I’ve seen doing well are these more value-oriented versions that play like a Shardless Sultai deck with access to a game-winning combo in Cavern Harpy and Parasitic Strix as an alternative plan if grinding out the opponent isn’t strong or fast enough.
I’m not sure what the best lists are, but Aluren is a very difficult deck to play with and play against, and seems to be growing in popularity. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aluren at the top tables at GP Louisville.
Miracles Is Still in Game 1
Paul Johnstone, a local player from Columbus, Ohio, is still finishing up game 1 in round 4 of GP Columbus. He has established the Counterbalance lock, but his opponent is unwilling to concede and he’s currently digging for Entreat the Angels to finish things off. We’ll keep you updated as this story unfolds. According to sources on site, all signs point to this match ending in a draw.
Eldrazi has Shifted Toward Playing Oblivion Sower and Ulamog
Eldrazi decks have updated to playing cards like Oblivion Sower and then expensive cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and All is Dust, along with Ratchet Bomb in order to handle cards like Moat and Blood Moon that were previously very difficult to beat. You used to be able to slam a Blood Moon or Moat and basically assume that you had won the game against Eldrazi, but that is no longer the case.
I expect Eldrazi to be a popular deck, along with Shardless Sultai, although I personally believe that neither deck is particularly good, even against Miracles, a deck they are supposed to prey on.
Miracles has Made Some Slight Adjustments
Here is a recent list from Sam Roukas, who has been playing Miracles for quite a long time and who continually racks up 5-0 results on Magic Online with the deck. His list, which I have seen others begin to adopt, eschews main-deck Monastery Mentor in favor of going back to Entreat the Angels. It also plays cards like Engineered Explosives mainly to attack decks like Death and Taxes, which can prey on Miracles with new cards like Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate. E.E. also helps against Eldrazi, mainly by taking care of Chalice of the Void, which locks out important cards like Swords to Plowshares.
Below is a list still playing Mentor, but also finding room for E.E. Most Mentor lists these days are also playing Vendilion Clique in some numbers alongside Mentor.
Another change that most Miracles lists are making is to move away from a card like Blood Moon to instead play either From the Ashes or Back to Basics as the land-hate SB card of choice. Blood Moon is more devastating than From the Ashes or Back to Basics, but is also much more swingy. There are a lot of situations where Moon hurts the Miracles player just as much as the opponent. Back to Basics and From the Ashes don’t have that same problem, and From the Ashes can also sometimes Armageddon your opponent while giving you some untapped lands that you can use to play other spells with on the same turn.
Death and Taxes Has Many New Tools
Death and Taxes now has access to Recruiter of the Guard (previously some versions splashed for Imperial Recruiter), Sanctum Prelate, and Palace Jailer. These 3 Conspiracy cards all give the deck new angles. Recruiter of the Guard provides some tutor power as well as resiliency to sweepers like Terminus, especially alongside Aether Vial. Sanctum Prelate can lock out important cards out of combo decks or decks like Miracles.
Palace Jailer is a good removal spell and can also be a strong source of card advantage. The way it works is that you become the Monarch, and by virtue of being the Monarch you will draw a card on every one of your end steps unless a creature deals combat damage to you, in which case their controller becomes the Monarch. Palace Jailer’s removal ability doesn’t stop being in effect until you no longer are the Monarch, so even if Palace Jailer dies to a removal spell, the creature will still be exiled. You will also still draw a card every end step by virtue of being the Monarch, even if Palace Jailer is no longer in play. Fair warning, though—if the opponent hits you with a creature and becomes the Monarch, they will start drawing cards unless you can take back the Monarchy. Palace Jailer also interacts quite well with cards like Flickerwisp, which let you exile multiple creatures, and unless they deal combat damage to you, they won’t return.
Death and Taxes is a deck that is almost never played on MTGO because Rishadan Ports are extremely expensive, but it is a deck I expect to see a lot at the GP because of how much it has gained in recent sets.
These are some of the big changes that Legacy has seen in the past few months. There are also some other shifts, like Delver Decks are mostly Grixis or 4-color these days and some of them have shifted to being more grindy value-oriented lists that give up some speed for cards like Snapcaster Mage. Another shift is that Leovold, Emissary of Trest has become a really popular card, as it is a source of card advantage and minor disruption that is annoying for many decks to deal with. It will be interesting to see what happens at GP Louisville. There’s a good chance that old favorites like Miracles will end up on top, but who knows? Maybe we’ll see something off the wall like Aluren take it down. I’ll be excited to watch the Top 8 and find out what happens—you know, after I verify that I got 65th place on breakers first.