Legacy: A Survival Guide
By CynicalSquirrel on March 20th, 2005 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now
Legacy, formerly known as 1.5, is one of the most wide-open formats in Magic. It is a format where almost any kind of deck can win a tournament, and where rogue decks and netdecks alike can compete. However, it is still a format trying to find its identity, and many players who are used to formats such as Type II may not be able to understand everything. This article is a guide to new players; It will feature some of the top decks, some tips for how to play, and some more tips for how to build decks in this wide open format.
As most of you probably know, 1.5 was almost like a “cult” format a few months ago. This was before Wizards decided to separate it from Type I and completely revamp the format. They banned cards such as Bazaar of Baghdad and Mana Drain to open the door for Chrome Mox, Fact or Fiction, and other budget cards. Wizards made it clear they wanted this to be more of a budget format, and didn’t want it to become like Type I, where people who can afford power are given a huge advantage. Now that 1.5 is a baby format, one where several decks are in contention for tier 1 status, and one where almost anyone can win. Here are the current decks you’re likely to see in a Legacy metagame:
Angry Tradewind Survival
ATS for short, this deck uses Survival of the Fittest to the fullest of its broken potential. It hopes to achieve a lock on the way via Tradewind Rider. What separates this Survival decks from other is not Survival of the Fittest itself however, but the explosive mana engine it features by using Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary. An Elf Legend doesn’t look like much, but it speeds the deck up by at least 2 turns and allows for quick Survivals and usually quick games- especially when it is hasted with Anger or untapped with Quirion Ranger. Unlike its long lost cousin, Survival Advantage, ATS uses a toolbox approach, which makes it the most versatile deck in the format, with the ability to find the answer to anything for one green mana and one creature in its hand. Squee, Goblin Nabob, Genesis, and Anger help to get those answers out quickly and effectively, with minimum drawback. Overall, this and Survival Advantage are probably the top decks in the format.
R/G Survival Advantage
The second of the three competitive Survival decks, Survival Advantage and ATS both feature the explosive mana that comes with Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary. Both deck share Squee, Goblin Nabob, Genesis, and Anger to speed them up and make them run smoother. However, the similarities end there. Unlike ATS, Survival Advantage prefers redundancy. Instead of one copy of Flametongue Kavu, they will run 4 Flametongue Kavus and use it 4 times. It makes the deck very consistent and strong. The deck’s namesake comes from the card draw engine it has in the form of Sword of Fire and Ice (pre-bannings it was Skullclamp), which gives the deck card draw and helps their match up against Goblins and other red aggro decks. The deck also uses Ravenous Baloth and Genesis for recurring life gain (Another thing that can ruin an aggro deck’s game). Shivan Wurm is used to bounce back cards like Flametongue Kavu so they can use its come-into-play ability again. A 7/7 trample doesn’t hurt much either. Survival Advantage is without a doubt one of the top decks in the format. I would see it as tied with ATS for top deck honors.
Goblin Sligh is probably the fastest deck in the format as far as pure speed goes. It uses little red men such as Goblin Piledriver, Goblin Warchief, and the ever-unfair Goblin Lackey to beat you down as much as they can. Goblin Lackey often sends out second turn Siege Gang Commanders and other things that most players just can’t deal with. It also uses the classic red burn spells in Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Goblin Grenade to get rid of any threats that stand in their way. This deck is one of the most feared in the format (in terms of how much sideboarding you see for it) and is also one of the best because of its ability to deal twenty damage so quickly. However, with the recent influx of Survival decks and other creature-heavy aggro decks such as U/G Madness, Goblins has actually taken a more control approach, using Plateau to splash white for Swords to Plowshares and Disenchant in the sideboard.
When people saw the new unbannings in 1.5, with cards such as Fact or Fiction and Lion’s Eye Diamond being legalized, most harped that Madness would be unstoppable. Surprisingly, Madness runs neither of these cards. Nevertheless, Madness is still one of the tier 1 decks in the young format. U/G Madness is an aggro-control deck, using drawing and discarding to accelerate early Madness cards out quickly, such as Basking Rootwalla and Arrogant Wurm. Wild Mongrel is another big threat, with the ability to churn out cheap Madness creatures while pumping itself up at the same time. Wonder is also used to give all of your creatures evasion, and counters are used to get rid of threats. This deck is one of the toughest to beat because of its consistency and its resiliency. There aren’t a whole lot of cards outside of Stifle that can really slow Madness down. However, many decks can simply outrace it.
Solidarity is the only competitive pure combo deck in the format. It revolves around High Tide with untap spells like Turnabout and Reset to create massive mana. Cards like Meditate and Impulse are used along the way to get cards you need. Eventually, you should play close to your whole library on turn 3-4 and deck them with Brain Freeze or Stroke of Genius. The deck also uses Cunning Wish with a sideboard full of silver bullet targets. Solidarity is one of the most fun decks to play in the format. Although some of the cards are difficult to find, if you’re a combo player it is definitely worth trying out.
Note: Some versions of the deck run Thawing Glaciers
Landstill is one of those pesky decks that just will not go away. Despite losing the ever-valuable Mana Drain to Nevinyrall’s Disk trick, Landstill is once again at the top, and isn’t showing signs of going anywhere even with all the non-basic land hate that is regularly thrown at them. Landstill is a counter heavy deck that uses manlands in the form of Faerie Conclave and Mishra’s Factory to beat you down. The deck uses Standstill to either prevent your opponent from playing spells (and beat them with the manlands) or gain big card advantage. Usually opponents have to crack the Standstill as quickly as they can, which results in card advantage for the Landstill player and more counters to use. This deck is very resilient, and has the ability to counter any threats you can throw at it.
Angel Stompy is a mono-white aggro control deck that is based around getting a fast Exalted Angel onto the table. Exalted Angel is probably the single best creature in the format now. It hits the board quickly, deals plenty of damage, and gains life at the same time. This deck uses other creatures such as Mother of Runes to make sure the Exalted can fly through easily while also giving evasion to all of your other creatures. The deck also utilizes a lot of Protection from Red abilities, including Soltari Priest, Silver Knight, and Sword of Fire and Ice. This allows this deck to easily beat Goblins and R/G Survival, as well as pretty much any other deck with red in it. It also uses Swords to Plowshares and Parallax Wave to keep the board clean so the damage can keep on coming in. Tithe, Chrome Mox, and Ancient Tomb are used for acceleration. The Sword of Fire and Ice combined with Mask of Memory and evasion effects equals major card advantage, so threats always hit the table and the deck doesn’t run out of steam.
BBS stands for something that… well, I can’t say in this article. You do the math. BBS is a mono blue control deck that basically just counters everything you play. Force of Will, Counterspell, and Mana Leak are used to make sure your opponent never gets anything on the board. If they ever do get anything out on the board, Powder Keg and/or Nevinyrall’s Disk wipes it clean. The deck also uses cards such as Accumulated Knowledge to get card advantage so it can keep getting counters and answers for the opponent’s threats. The kill condition of choice in this deck is Morphling because of its difficulty to remove and its versatility. BBS is one of the best decks because it’s so hard to resolve anything against it. It makes every spell you attempt to play count. It also usually maindecks Back to Basics, which can really hurt a lot of unprepared decks.
Again, WUBS stands for something I can’t say. The W means White, and the U means Blue. Basically, this is U/W control, using the same kind of counter method, adding white for timely removal, such as Swords to Plowshares and for a better win condition in the form of Exalted Angel. WUBS is more versatile than BBS because of its ability to consistently remove threats and make sure the board is always clean. Force of Will and Counterspell are still used effectively despite the white splash, as is Vedalken Shackles. It also uses Fact or Fiction and Brainstorm for the obligatory card advantage spells to consistently draw answers to everything your opponent plays or tries to play. The kill conditions here are Exalted Angel and Mishra's Factory.
U/W Scepter Control
U/W Scepter Control is a deck that spawns from other control decks, but instead focuses on abusing the powerful Isochron Scepter. Almost every card in the deck is something that can be put on the Scepter. Accumulated Knowledge, Swords to Plowshares, Fire//Ice, and the plain unfair Orim’s Chant can all fit on a Stick. Mystical Tutor and Cunning Wish are also used to tutor out instants so you can always find one to put on the Scepter. The deck can stand its own without the Scepter, but once it gets one out it is difficult to stop unless you get a card like Null Rod out. The deck also uses counters like Counterspell (another Scepter target) and Force of Will. The kill condition is the same as WUBS’: Morphling/Exalted Angel, although some also use Decree of Justice.
Some Tips for Playing Legacy
A lot of players enter a new format and just don’t know where to start. This is especially true of a format such as Legacy, where the card pool is so big. There are tons of different options for people to use, and all of them are at least somewhat effective. Here are some tips for playing and building Legacy:
Dual Lands are the Glue That Holds Legacy Together
Dual Lands are the biggest, most important cards in the entire format. They allow things that you just never see in formats without them, such as Goblins splashing white for Swords to Plowshares, or a deck like Angry Tradewind Survival splashing white for Enlightened Tutor. No other format has splashes like these, and it’s what separates 1.5 from all the others, and makes it one of the most interesting. The dual lands are expensive, but you just can’t be too shy to buy them. They’re definitely worth it for the amazing consistency they give your deck, and they never go down in price either. If you’re a new player to the format, getting Dual Lands will really help you in your Legacy experience. However….
Don’t Run More Dual Lands Than You Absolutely Have to
I simply cannot stress this enough, and it is one of the most common mistakes I see from people in the format. We all know dual lands are technically better than basic lands, but still don’t necessarily run four of each one. If you are just splashing white for two to three cards in a green deck, don’t run four Savannahs. Just run one or two. Almost every deck in this format is going to have some kind of non basic land hate in it, whether it is Wasteland, Back to Basics, Blood Moon, or some other random card they came up with. It’s easy to just run one to two copies of dual lands because…
Fetch Lands are Vital
Fetch Lands are very important to decks in this environment. They allow players to only use one or two copies of a dual land because you can fetch it with anything. They also are practically invulnerable to non-basic land hate. They also give you the power to thin your deck of lands, and to shuffle your library, which maximizes the effect of cards such as Brainstorm. At this point, just about every deck in the format with more than one color should be running fetch lands; they help out the mana base so much.
Hate, or be Hated
Like all formats, 1.5 is rich with cards that you can use to hate out your opponents. Right now, the two biggest “hate cards” are Null Rod and Back to Basics. Null Rod is an artifact, which means any deck can run it; and pretty much any deck that doesn’t have a large amount of artifacts does. So be careful if you use a card such as Isochron Scepter; you'd better have a way to deal with cards like Null Rod and other various things people throw at you. Back to Basics is another one that you need to be wary of. As I mentioned before, you shouldn’t run more non-basic lands than you have to. Wasteland is another card that can be used almost everywhere. If you aren’t running non-basic lands, it’s almost always a good idea to include something like Wasteland or another non-basic hate spell such as Blood Moon. The effect on you is minimal, and the effect on your opponent is huge. Don’t be shy when it comes to playing hate cards. Main deck them sometimes if your meta game calls for it.
By CynicalSquirrel on March 20th, 2005 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now