What Next for Legacy?
By Finn on August 4th, 2005 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now
This is it! For Legacy players, this is what many of us have complained about not having over in our corner of the great ocean of Magic players for a very, very long time - a major event. How mighty lovely indeed.
I truly believe that Legacy going big time is good for the quality of the format and ultimately the game at large, as it will become streamlined. But, this format for me, for all of us who have played it for so long, has been a whole world of possibility, largely unexplored. Sure, there are really good decks, but on a given day, a good rogue deck always has a decent chance to take a top spot. This is unique in Magic, maybe even special.
That's all about to change - forever.
This card could really alter the
creature-heavy Legacy format. It
used to be restricted in Vintage,
back when creatures actually
mattered in there.
Recently I read a single word in a Legacy post that I knew in my heart to be true, but it hadn't sunk in completely yet. That word was "unrecognizable". If we get the amount of attention we want for this format, that will be what it becomes. It is not just about the new decks that will be competing with the ones we have come to expect. The entire feel of the format will have changed. This is the least populated format. Its regional flavors give the format an old fashioned (for lack of a better phrase) feel to it. Legacy is the sole holdover from the brief pre-internet days when you never knew what to expect at the local tournament. This newfound exposure will mark the end of an era.
This is the way of things, however. Legacy has been existing in a state of evolution-in-slow-motion for nearly a decade. It has been waiting for Extended (and to some extent, Standard) to get so bloated as to drop it's oldest sets. Those sets, The Dark, Fallen Empires, Ice Age, etc. - and soon to be joined by many more - have all entered the uncertain realm of Legacy, left to dwell until light shone in, and have all been welcomed by Legacy's players without hesitation. We like the fact that Swords to Plowshares,
The Candelabra used to be a houseRegrowth, and even Hymn to Tourach only exist for our pleasure. And now the light of day is nearly upon us. We will be putting on our best faces (for some of us even brushing our teeth) and filling the seats at three major events very soon. We will be polishing our favorite decks. We will be convincing friends to join us; borrowing and lending cards; all just to make a good showing come game time. Evolution is finally catching up with us. May the best decks win!
with Mishra's Factory and Maze of Ith.
For a long time, the Candelabra and
the Maze were restricted in Vintage,
so they were unavailable in Legacy.
Now we can use four of all them in
It's all good. Well, maybe.
I am not sure that I, personally, will benefit. I happen to have all the Duals (we call them Twisties in my neck of the woods), but what about if I think up a combo with Lich or The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale? These cards are already hard to get. If they find themselves in a top Legacy deck I may never be able to acquire them. I'm not alone, either. In the grand scheme of things, I am way ahead of the game. What about the folks who don't even know what ATS stands for yet? They should be able to enter the big events. Where on earth are these folks going to dig up four copies of Invoke Prejudice or Candelabra of Tawnos if their decks require them?
Do you remember what Umezawa's Jitte, Arcbound Ravager, Exalted Angel, Call of the Herd, Urza's Rage, Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, Tolarian Academy, etc. were like to get when they were "in season?" You either bought a gazillion packs or traded like mad to get your four. We are about to enter a season in which REALLY BROKEN cards, some of which were in miniscule print runs will be in demand, possibly forever. That, my friends, is a certain recipe for skyrocketing secondary market prices.
At a time when many players will be poking around in the format for the first time, we are bound to see some cards returning from past powerful Standard decks (like Affinity) or Extended (like Full English Breakfast). Certainly some good designs will pop up from these efforts. But the real innovation may come about from looking much further back, to a time when the card pool had not been properly tested by the masses. There are a lot of tender nuggets from the original base set and especially from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends that have never been through the gauntlet of Block or Standard to find the gems of the sets. We have a general understanding of the good ones, but that's it. Most folks knew that Æther Vial was good when they first saw it, especially when compared to Mercadian Lift. But would we have found out exactly how good if Mirrodin Block had been abruptly removed from Standard and Extended? It's doubtful. These sets have never been in Block, Standard, or Extended. We could discover entirely new archetypes.
A little history to put this thought into perspective...
If you are not familiar with the oldest cards, and maybe are unconvinced of their power, consider that Magic is the first game of the genre. Yeah, collectible card games were not always around. The entire concept of failing English 1101 because you spent all your time (and book money) at the local card store was unheard of before this game. No one knew that people would own so many cards. Richard Garfield knowingly put broken cards into Alpha figuring that these cards would be unfair, but then so what? He never figured the game to entice people to spend thousands of dollars on cards, much less on a single card. There was no real internet commerce to consider and no global community for games back then. You would likely have a few powerhouse cards in every gaming group. How many Time Walks would a person be able to acquire after all? In addition, there would be plenty of cards that were nothing special with regard to power, but that everybody had access to. That's why for every Mox Sapphire is a Wall of Wood. You just wouldn't see a Mox in the common slot. Additionally, its creators simply had not really grasped the relative power level of cards at the time. That sort of thing only came about after years of game evolution. It was many, many games of magic before the community figured out that was too cheap for three damage to any target. These were the sets that produced all those ridiculous early cards. No, not Unhinged ridiculous, Ancestral Recall and Nether Void ridiculous. And there are plenty of these powerhouses remaining in the format just waiting to be sleazed.
You see, Legacy, while now seperated from the shackles of Vintage's restricted list, still has the "legacy" of the Vintage restricted list in its composition. It has been less than a year since the banned list was restructured, splitting the two. Before that time, many of the best decks were simply powered down versions of Vintage decks. With Mana Drain, Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, etc. out of the mix, some creativity seems to have sparked. Truly original decks have been appearing in larger numbers. Good call Wizards. The current environment of cards seems to have caused new cream to rise to the top.
These puppies aren't in any of today's archetypes. But
what about the decks to come? They have similar,
powerful effects, so they could be. Could you afford to
run four of each? Have you ever met anyone who
actually owns four of each?
So. So what?
Well now the format seems ripe for some of the old fashioned monster cards to arise from the ashes of the days before seperate tournament formats had been introduced. Have you checked out how powerful Eureka, Berserk, and Chains of Mephistopheles are? There is a reason they are already highly valued. Just because they don't have a place in Vintage does not mean they aren't absurd in power level. It's just that a) Legacy has never seriously affected availablilty and thus market value of cards in the past, and b) there have not been enough of us to properly sleaze the existing card pool. Wizards banned and unbanned cards allowing for some new innovations in the format, but by no means cleaned out all the ridiculous cards. All they did - all they could possibly do - was to remove the identified offenders of the time a.k.a. the cards already sleazed by the far more populous Vintage crowd.
Take Berserk for example. This is a card that had been on the Vintage restricted list since the beginning. To paraphrase Richard Garfield, "You shouldn't lose the game because of failure to have a Fog on turn three." Only recently had the Combat Phase become so unnecessary in modern Vintage tournaments that Wizards unrestricted Berserk. The card hasn't lost its punch since then. The speed and efficiency of Vintage is just so out of control that creature combat is virtually unheard of. That is not the case in Legacy. Berserk was unrestricted for a vastly different environment. Just because it is not dominating the field yet does not mean it won't. And if it does, good luck finding one.
In some ways it has already happened. Try finding Reset, a Legends uncommon, at the popular online Magic shops. A year ago, they could be had for a couple bucks. Now, with the popularity of Solidarity, they are hard to find at all. The deck won't run without them, and this is one of very few cards from Legends to show up in Legacy decks as a four-of. It isn't even a rare, and yet they fetch closer to $20 now when they are to be had at all. This is not like getting your third and fourth Kokushos where you will have to trade away better cards to acquire them. I am saying you simply can't find them. It's even harder for the overseas players. The Japanese Magic community is great at busting out deck innovations, but it won't mean squat if they can't get the cards.
If the winning deck at GenCon runs four Drop of Honey and four The Abyss main deck, how in hell can most people hope to build that deck afterward? The print run of Arabian Nights was 5 million and Legends was only 35 million versus, for example, 400 million for Tempest. In fact, Legends packs were not even available when they were in print! Stores sold out of them within hours after the shipments arrived at the door. This does not even consider how many Acid Rains and Juzam Djinns have crumpled in shoeboxes over the past 10 years. There just aren't that many of them out there. The only reason cards like this are not totally unavailable right now is a relative lack of demand. We may end up with a format in which the very best decks are simply impossible for most players to build. That would be disastrous, as tournaments would be dominated by the chaps with the most cash (or for pros, the best connections) to acquire the cards. If that happens, all we can hope for are aggressive bannings. We would either have to hope that Wizards begins banning cards based on availablilty, or hope that we get lucky and the unattainable super-rares from old sets prove to be just broken enough to warrant bannings - for each individual case. But is either of these the solution we want? Is our little format in danger of being further marginalized by its own increased popularity?
This baby would be quite a bomb in
a Legacy build of Life. Could demand
for super-rare cards like this make
And the really scary news is that if Legacy is, in fact, largely abandoned by Wizards after a few years (as BDM mentioned it may be), a few super broken decks may have been unearthed by all the players digging around old sets. And when the attention finally dies down, and the dust settles, we are left with a format played by only a few people (perhaps like now), but dominated by a few uberdecks fielding ridiculously expensive and unavailable cards. And it isn't like the damage will have been temporary like Combo Winter * or something. This is Legacy, the eternal format. Diamond Valley and Moat will never rotate out. Once the format is broken, it cannot be completely fixed. Boy, that sounds like... uhh... Vintage.
Don't bust open the piggy bank just yet.
Of course, folks could generally find the cards I have been mentioning to be chaff and not worth a spot in their decks. Or, possibly, the format doesn't actually get all that much attention in the first place. Who knows for certain? What is certain is that Legacy is a whole lot of fun to play. It is and will continue to be the land of opportunity for personal deck tech. With the sheer number of reasonably playable cards greater than any other format, there will likely be an enormous number of decks to see play this year. The greater the number of competitive decks in the field, the less the impact of broken control and combo cards from a time before all cards were created equal (well, more or less equal) will have. If that sort of thing occurs, we can expect Legacy to float - no, to flourish. Extended was a hit when it was first introduced largely because people wanted to play with their older cards in something other than Vintage (T1 back then). That seems to be a good motivator. But even more exciting are the kids, 16, 17 years old, who did not know the game in its infancy, seeing the beauty of cards from disparate blocks coming together to create original synergies no one has ever spotted before. This just doesn't happen much in Block or Standard where your opponent can often guess 90% of the cards in your deck with the first land you play. Where other constructed formats have a tendency to disdain rogues, Legacy rewards them.
Personally I believe in Legacy; not due to any scientific data or logic, but because I have wanted this for so so long, that it seems somehow poetically wrong in the very Hollywood sense of justice to allow our brightest shining hour to be our undoing. So make your mark! Once the first season has come and gone, the environment will have coagulated into the format's first true metagame. Get involved in helping to shape that environment. Tune up your favorite deck from way back when. Infuse it with the best the game has to offer from every block. Help us to blaze a trail this year when the finest decks from the game's entire history compete on the international stage for the first time ever æ. The events have already been set in motion, and there is only a shallow pool of options if things start to go sour and the format is received only lukewarm. One thing we can all do, however, is to take part. We only get one chance for this. Either we swim, and gleam gloriously under the newfound sunlight, or we sink, and we stay on the ocean floor for a very, very, very long time.
æGrand Prix-Philadelphia (November 12-13, 2005) to be held at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and Grand Prix-Lille (December 17-18, 2005) to be held at the Lille Grand Palais in Lille, France will be Constructed tournaments using the Legacy format. Check http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x...c/legacychamps for more info on the GenCon event this summer.
*Combo Winter was the winter of 1998-99 dominated by a number of insane combo decks all abusing the new broken cards from Urza Block with the remaining broken cards from 5th edition (as well as some from Tempest Block). The joke of the time was that early game was the coin flip, midgame was the opening draw, and late game was turn one. Heavy bannings and ultimately rotation from Block and Standard have relegated those sick decks to history.
£ The Candelabra, used with attacking Factory Workers and some well-timed Maze activations on your own attackers could make those Factory Workers get awfully big. For many players it was their first introduction to combat with multiple dependent fast effects. It also ran into some dicey timing issues before the rules of priority had been hammered out completely - or at least before anyone knew what those rules were.|
"OK, I take three from the Factory? So, you're not going to Disenchant it then? That depends on if you pump it again or not. I'm only going to pump it if you don't Disenchant it." ...and so on...
Content and layout by Finn
Art by votan
Banner by iloveatogs
Thanks to Qwerty for helping me see this to print
Edited by Goblinboy
By Finn on August 4th, 2005 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now
Finn is a lifelong deck designing junkie.