Sucking At Legacy: Good Decks You Aren't Playing

Legacy is a format Wizards of the Coast has recently been trying hard to promote, it has the largest cardpool outside of Vintage, and thanks to a well maintained banned list, is very balanced and open. It’s also a very expensive format (though cheaper than Vintage) because some of the most powerful cards (such as Sinkhole) were only available for a limited time when production runs were much, much smaller than they are now. Legacy is also dominated by a very short list of decks, namely Threshold (U/G/w and U/G/r versions), Goblins, and Solidarity.

Legacy does have some advantages though. After a high initial investment, you can pretty much keep playing your same deck with only minor modifications forever, which does bring the price down a fair amount. And while the top3 decks are very firmly established, there is an absolutely HUGE tier 1.3. I say tier 1.3 because many of the "lower tier" decks are very, very, very close to the top3 and can, and will frequently beat them in tournaments.

The three top decks represent the Combo, Aggro, and Aggro-Control archetypes. Any deck which wants to break into the top tier of Legacy must prove that it can compete with these three archetypes and these three decks. This is very difficult since each deck operates in a very different manner and always plays the same game no matter what its opponent does. Goblins just throws goblins at you until you're dead and blows up as much of your mana along the way as possible. Solidarity ignores you until it can produce about 10 billion mana and deck you. Threshold counters everything you do while throwing Mongeese and Werebears at you. What all this means is that any deck that wants to be competitive in Legacy has to be able to deal with mana denial + weenies, counters + beef and instant speed combo.

Survival Lives!

However, there actually are other decks that can go ahead and fight against all of these different and diverse deck types. Let’s start with a survival based list.

Zenigata by TacosnapeMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4x Wooded Foothills
4x Windswept Heath
4x Forest
4x Bayou
1x Overgrown Tomb
1x Pendelhaven
4x Chrome Mox

4x Elves of Deep Shadow
4x Basking Rootwalla
3x Arrogant Wurm
1x Big Game Hunter
4x Wild Mongrel
3x Eternal Witness
1x Squee, Goblin Nabob
1x Loaming Shaman
1x Uktabi Orangutang

4x Survival of the Fittest

4x Duress
4x Cabal Therapy
4x Umezawa's Jitte

I am still in the format you know.
The Overgrown Tomb is of particular interest, as it was included as a solution in the event of a Bayou getting Extirpated. Madness/Survival was first explored as an archetype by Sean McKeown at GP Lille where it went 5-1-2. Loaming Shaman does a nice job of refilling the library with creatures for you to Survival out again. Other versions of the deck have run Aether Vial, Oversold Cemetery, and Zombie Infestation. Nether Traitor, Akuta, Born of Ash, Golgari Brown Scale, Dark Confidant and Volrath's Stronghold have all been suggested for inclusion as well. One card that was in McKeown's deck that is not present here is Sadistic Hypnotist. While the card itself may be complete jank, the Mind Twist effect is not to be underrated in a deck that can pump out as many cheap, free creatures as this one.

To describe matchups against the big three decks in the format, I'll let the decks creator (Tacosnape) speak for himself.

GOBLINS: Goblins is not hard if you don't make mistakes, but small mistakes will kill you. Don't leave your manabase vulnerable or you'll lose. Game one, Get a Jitte active as soon as possible and if you get a quicker start than them, don't let up. Even with Survival and Madness, the long game isn't in your favor. Game two-three, board out Duress for Plague, then set your silver bullet slots to all three Uktabi Orangutans to pick off Vials. If they're running green, Therapy for Krosan Grip/Tin-Street Hooligan if you get them. You should do okay with four Plagues and four Jittes.

THRESHOLD: If you want to win game one, which is tricky, Slow-roll your Survivals/Loaming Shaman if you get them in your opening hand. If they don't know what to Needle/Mage for, you can often run them out of counters with Discard and Wild Mongrel/Arrogant Wurm. Big Game Hunter can't kill Mystic Enforcer, so you'll either need an active Jitte or Loaming Shaman on their graveyard to get through it. Rootwallas can trade with Mongeese, and Werebear either trades with Arrogant Wurm or goes down to Big Game Hunter. Game two, add Loaming Shamans and Uktabi Orangutans in (And Big Game Hunters game three if you see Jotun Grunt in Game 2.) Orangutan the barrage of Needles, and use Shaman to keep them off Threshold. Trade creatures with Threshold whenever possible and you'll be fine.

SOLIDARITY: Game one isn't bad, but it isn't great either. You have a decent clock backed up by Duress, Therapy, and Witness recurring them. Drop useless cards like Big Game Hunter and Squee on Chrome Moxes and bash face as fast as possible. Game two and three get better. Cut the Jittes for Hypnotic Specter, then cut BGH and Squee for two Loaming Shamans, which provide slightly improved beatdown and maybe once in a blue never the ability to get rid of a Flash of Insight. If you get a Specter going, Solidarity has a hard time recovering from it, especially when combined with Duress/Therapy.

Competitive White Weenie.. Say huh?

The next deck I'll be showing you is a very recent creation, but has a lot of potential due to utilizing the utter brokenness that is White bounce.

Death and Taxes, by FinnMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Legendary Creatures
3x Isamaru, Hound of Konda
3x Mangara of Corondor
3x Hokori, Dust Drinker

4x Serra Avenger
4x Glowrider
4x Silver Knight
2x Jotun Grunt
4x Stonecloaker

4x Swords to Plowshares
4x Aether Vial
3x Sensei's Divining Top

4x Windswept Heath
4x Flooded Strand
4x Karakas
4x Rishadan Port
6x Plains

Yeah, someone built a deck around me.
The deck can create a soft lock with Karakas, Port, Hokori, and Vial,
and does all sorts of nifty tricks with Stonecloaker, while the Karakas/Mangara combo can permanently lock people out of the game. Some other Legendary creatures that can be added to the deck include Masako the Humorless, Cho-Manno, Revolutionary, and Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon". Eiganjo Castle, Umezawa's Jitte, Enlightened Tutor and Sword of Fire and Ice have also been tried in various builds.

GOBLINS: Every match will play out differently here. Judicious use of Swords to Plowshares is key. Post board, you have seven pro-red knights and Tivadar's Crusade. Game one you're going to need to be much more defensive than game two, when you've got the sweeper to back up your plays.

THRESHOLD: Their guys are bigger, but you have more of them, and Glowrider makes a million cantrips.dec wear the sad face. Swords and Mangara are your only real outs against an Enforcer, but the rest of their dudes can be traded with on the ground. The fact that you have eight creatures which can one for one a mongoose should not be overlooked.

SOLIDARITY: Vial is key here, as it means you can respond to that first Reset with a Glowrider. Game one isn't that great unless you get the nuts draw and they somehow foolishly tap out into Hokori. Games two and three, the additional cost raising from Sphere of Resistance is a big help to your cause. True Believer is another bonus card here. While none of these cards will do much against Solidarity by themselves, the combination of all of them coupled with a reasonably quick clock is usually enough to push through the win post board.

Oh, a 5c Deck, Never Expected That

Finally, we get to my favorite part, the five color deck. This deck originally completely dominated every matchup except combo, recent changes have fixed that situation however, and this is probably the deck in this list most likely to make a significant impact in the Legacy metagame. The deck has evolved in two different, but similar directions, one of which focuses on blue card drawing, and one which focuses on red tutoring.

Eternal Garden by DiablosMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Land Enhancement
3x Crucible of Worlds
4x Exploration
1x Life from the Loam

2x Crop Rotation
3x Intuition
4x Thirst for Knowledge

4x Swords to Plowshares
3x Pyroclasm
2x Smokestack
1x Engineered Explosives

Damage Prevention
2x Constant Mists
1x Glacial Chasm
1x Maze of Ith

4x Mox Diamond
1x Academy Ruins
1x Riftstone Portal
1x Nomad Stadium
1x Cephalid Coliseum
1x Barbarian Ring
1x Tranquil Thicket
2x Wasteland
2x Nantuko Monastery
4x Ancient Tomb
4x Windswept Heath
2x Savannah
3x Tropical Island
3x Volcanic Island

Yep, I beat more than 65% of the decks
in Legacy. By myself.
The deck wins with Nantuko Monastery beatdown or through Barbarian Ring recursion. In a long game Smokestack gives you inevitability, and the deck has the distinct advantage of being almost completely unable to lose to Goblins or Threshold. And while Solidarity has a near bye game one, they really, really don't like what happens in games two and three. Tormod's Crypt is common and can be a problem for this deck, but that's why you run Needles and tutors to find them.

GOBLINS: Goblins has three separate and distinct problems against this deck. #1: Pyroclasm and Swords to Plowshares. These are the flat out best two removal cards to have vs. Goblins, and this deck packs both. This is a severe hindrance to goblins' ability to develop their board in a timely fashion. #2: Exploration, Mox Diamond, and Crucible of Worlds. You would think a deck with no basic lands would be more, not less vulnerable to goblins' mana denial, but with artifact mana, the ability to play multiple lands in one turn, lands that produce more than one mana, and the ability to play lands from the graveyard, coupled with a low curve, goblins' mana denial strategy simply won't have an effect most games. #3: Constant Mists and Glacial Chasm. When locked out of the attack phase, Goblins will normally just build up a big board and kill the opponent with Siege-Gang Commander and Goblin Sharpshooter. Unfortunately, problem #1 prevents this kind of board development, and Glacial Chasm prevents all non-combat damage as well.

THRESHOLD: Threshold can't beat a resolved Glacial Chasm, end of story. Red thresh can try to burn you out when you're recurring it, but Nomad Stadium makes that a rather difficult proposition.

SOLIDARITY: If you know they're playing Solidarity, concede game one. Seriously. Games two and three, you've got four Chalices and four 3Spheres to go along with some Smokestack LD. In other words, they're playing against Stax, their worst matchup. Just for fun, you've also got Boil, although there is some debate about whether the Boil slot should be shifted to Rule of Law for better combo matchups across the board. Solidarity is your least favorable of all the big three, but is still very winnable. Pithing Needle on their fetchlands is also a hawt play.

And that's just the Iceberg

These three decks are all solid archetypes (I say archetypes because there isn't nearly the agreement on the lists for these as there is on say, Solidarity) but they are by no means the only legitimate contenders you could play outside of the big three in any given Legacy tournament. Burn, Angel Stompy, Faerie Stompy, Deadguy, and IGGy Pop are also all well established archetypes that can take you all the way. Then there is also always the innovation factor. Legacy has a large, high quality cardpool that has not been even close to fully developed yet. There are plenty of good decks still around waiting to be built, and plenty of powerful, underplayed archetypes waiting to be designed. If you've got a bunch of cards, and are interested in getting into Legacy, I highly recommend at least trying it out on MWS for a few games. The format is very diverse, and very fun, allowing for the most broken, "fair" plays anywhere outside of casual.


Posts Quoted:
Clear All Quotes