Decks You Will Encounter in Legacy




By Lennie Brookes

Hi! Today I am going to walk you through the popular decks in Legacy. Hopefully it’s a quick read that will help a new player get ready for a tournament or even help you choose a deck. I will also provide lists I use for testing. While each list may not be 100% optimal I would not be scared to lend the deck to a friend or play them myself (in the case of the decks with Islands, anyway). I do suggest you take a walk into our Legacy forums and ask for help if you want or need it. There are plenty of people willing to help and if you have time we could help you tailor one of the lists or build another to suit you and your budget. Finally, I will make a "usual suspects" comment for each deck. For the first few turns of plays, this will help you spot what your opponent is running. The decks are broken down into three sections: Control, Aggro and Combo. I could have gone into greater detail but it is easier for you and, better still, easier for me to just have three sections instead of 7-8 scattered sections.

Some choices will come under review. For example most of the Legacy community on the site does not agree with me that ATS is a combo deck. Oh well, it's my article so tough :D. Also, seeing as I am one of the mods of Legacy, I can link to threads in the Legacy forum where the decks or archetypes are being discussed. Please do not be afraid to post on the threads linked to; they do not come under effect by the necroing policy.

Some people may recognize parts of this article from the Legacy forums; it was originally there. But I had been debating turning it into a article anyway so I rewrote out the stuff that wasn’t by me (well... most of it), and replaced it with more in-depth information.

You will also notice that none of the decks have sideboards. This is deliberate, as to encourage you to research the deck before playing it. Not only that, but I am of the strong view that sideboards are very meta dependant. Well, I best stop ranting now and get on with the article, eh?


Control

Landstill
Landstill comes fully equipped with a heavy counterbase containing Force of Will and Counterspell amongst other cards. It uses White and Red or even both in lot of cases to provide creature control via the use of Lightning Bolt, Fire // Ice and Swords to Plowshares. It clears the board with Nevinyrral's Disk. It gains raw card advantage by the use of Standstill and Fact or Fiction (Brainstorm isn’t draw but rather card quality). Standstill provides a win/win situation for Landstill because if it's broken, you draw three cards. If it isn’t you can happily apply pressure and win with the manlands (Mishra's Factory and Faerie Conclave). Without a doubt, Landstill is THE most popular control deck in the format. The most common mistake many people make playing the deck is not starting the manland beats early enough in the game. Just waiting can often become the deck's downfall.

What to look for? First up, the most common first play to spot from Landstill is a turn one Faerie Conclave. The second is use of multiple Blue duals, notably Volcanic Island and Tundra. Finally, if you see Standstill you're playing against Landstill.

Hardness to play with: 7/10

ScepterC
ScepterC has three different variants: UW, UR, and URW. Each has strengths and weaknesses, but they all share the same backbone of a heavy counterbase consisting mainly of Counterspell, Daze, Mana Leak, and Force of Will. This is backed up by strong draw and the abuse of instants on an Isochron Scepter, most notably Fire // Ice and Orim's Chant. The UW version runs a couple more main deck threats like Exalted Angel and Decree of Justice, while the UR focuses a little more on draw spells and red based creature control. Finally, the URW versions tend to run more Scepter targets in the deck and focus a lot more on the Isochron Scepter being the win condition.


What to look for? It is easy to get ScepterC confused with Landstill. This makes it slightly harder to tell what you're playing against. If a Scepter gets dropped in the first few turns and they have blue mana, it's obviously ScepterC. If they have basic Islands as well as duals it is often a signal that they are playing ScepterC. But the biggest give away will be if they play Orims Chant during your upkeep in the first few turns.

Hardness to play with 6/10



BBS/WUBS

BBS and WUBS don’t just try to control cards as they come into play but actualy control the entire board. Its counters consist of Counterspell, Mana Leak, Force of Will, Misdirection, and Stifle. The draw engine consists mainly of Fact or Fiction and Brainstorm, sometimes using cards like Ophidian, accumulated Knowledge and Impulse. It controls permanents with three cards: Chalice of the Void, Vedalken Shackles, and Back to Basics. Sometimes it will pack mass removal in the form of artifacts like Powder Keg. Depending on its colours, it wins with one of the following three cards: Exalted Angel, Morphling, or Decree of Justice.

What to look for? The biggest give away players in the early game BBS makes are using Sac Lands to fetch basic Islands. Also look for the use of the spells like Back to Basics and Chalice of the Void. Both are only played maindeck in BBS. Spotting WUBS is a little harder. Look out for Tundras and lots of basic Islands, with Swords possibly making a early appearance.

Hardness to play with 8/10


Aggro

UG/Madness
UGM, or Blue/Green madness, is an aggro control deck. It attempts to control the board using spells like Force of Will, Daze, Circular Logic, and Stifle while at the same time applying aggression with cheaply cast creatures. It can cast creatures quickly while controlling the board at the same time because of the Madness mechanic. This allows a player to cast Arrogant Wurm at instant speed. It also sports a low CC creature base ranging from Basking Rootwalla to Merfolk Looter. The creatures come in two groups: discard outlets (Wild Mongrel) and madness creatures (walla and Wurm). It is worth noting that UGM in Legacy plays a more controlling game than the deck does in other formats. Thus, Roar of the Wurm sees less play.

What to look for? The first thing to look for is turn one Basking Rootwallas followed by a discard outlet on turn 2. Another give away is the player having Islands and Tropical Islands in play at the same time (few decks play islands and Trops). Also look out for cards like Wonder and even Roar of the Wurm hitting the graveyard.

Hardness to play with 6/10


RG Survival Advantage
A strong deck using Survival of the Fittest for a strong search engine in combination with Squee, Goblin Nabob. This deck, unlike ATS, is more aggressive. This is because it does not contain the counter backup of ATS, but it makes up for losing protection with sheer brute force. A typical play will involve overwhelming your opponent with Deranged Hermit, Flametongue Kavu, and Ravenous Baloth, then playing Shivan Wurm to return the Hermit/Kavu and repeat the slaughter. It also has a small amount of silver bullet targets for the Survival of the Fittest to help it react to niche situations.

What to look for? The usual suspect to give RGsa away is turn one Sac Land to fetch a Taiga and then onto casting a Birds of Paradise or a Llanowar Elf (if it does the latter it is almost certainly RGsa); Other signs are multiple Sac Lands not fetching Tropical Island but a Survival of the Fittest is in play or was attempted.

Hardness to play with 7/10

Angel Stompy
Angel Stompy is an aggro deck which revolves around forcing out an Exalted Angel as quickly as possible. It does this by abusing fast mana cards like Chrome Mox and Ancient Tomb. It also makes use of the usual WW army including cards such as Savannah Lions. Mother of Runes is on standby together with Sword of Fire and Ice to give evasion to its creatures. The cards that keep the deck running are the powerful draw tools Sword of Fire and Ice and Mask of Memory, which ensure the deck does not run out of steam mid-game. It utilizes Parallax Wave and Swords to Plowshares for removal of any threats that would normally spell "game over" such as Goblin Sharpshooter or Masticore. This deck has very strong matchups against R/G Survival and Goblin Sligh due to lifegain and the Protection from Red creatures/Mother of Runes/Sword of Fire and Ice.

What to look for? Plains. If they play Plains, Angel Stompy is a strong possibility. Other giveaways are Chrome Moxen and Ancient Tombs. The final ultimate giveaway is morphed creatures.

Hardness to play with 5/10

Goblin Sligh
This deck, made popular by the likes of Dave Price, is almost legendary. Sligh is the fastest pure aggro deck in the format. It believes in pure aggression, completely ignoring normal maindeck disruptive elements in favor of killing the opponent as quickly as it can. Goblin Lackey (and Aether Vial in some builds) is the key to the deck. Its utility in accelerating out potentially game-breaking threats such as Siege-Gang Commander and Goblin Goon in the very early game is very effective. Several different builds exist, and there has been extensive discussion on the best build in an effort to let Goblins dominate. Two notable splashes exist. They are: White for Swords to Plowshares and Disenchant or Black for Duress, Cabal Therapy, and Patriarch's Bidding.

What to look for? No semi-deep comments here; if they go turn one cast a Goblin, they're playing Goblins!!.

Hardness to play with 4/10



San Diego Zoo
A fast and aggressive aggro deck also known as G/W/R aggro. It involves a combination of the best removal in the format, including Swords to Plowshares, with efficient burn in the form of Fire // Ice, Lightning Bolt, and Incinerate. SDzoo has a mana curve that starts out with Nimble Mongoose and Savannah Lions, various two drops (Werebears and Goblin Legionnaire), some three mana drops (Troll Ascetic), and tops out at four mana with Blastoderm. The most notable thing about SDzoo is its use of the Isochron Scepter to create card advantage and/or tempo advantage. Every non land/creature card in the deck can be imprinted on a Isochron Scepter

What to look for? You’ll spot SD Zoo fairly quickly. It plays 3 different types of duals and they are an obvious giveaway. The big giveaway is that all of its creatures are distinct to SD Zoo (look at the list then). The final giveaway is creature beats plus the Isochron Scepter.

Hardness to play with 5/10


Combo

ATS
This deck, in its current form, has everything it needs to go into any matchup with positive results. It typically uses Anger and Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary to generate obscene amounts of mana very early, allowing it to set up either a Spore Frog-Genesis lock to keep aggro at bay or the more conventional Seedborn Muse-Tradewind Rider bounce combo. What makes ATS so strong is its silver bullet tool box engine that it abuses with Survival of the Fittest. Some of the toolbox targets are: Uktabi Orangutan, Mystic Snake, Gilded Drake, and Kami of Ancient Law. The list goes on, but you get the point yeah? It finally backs this up with four Force of Will and two to four Mana Leak giving ATS a large edge over other Survival of the Fittest based decks.

What to look for? Countermagic and Survival of the Fittest. The next clue is Tropical Island and Survival of the Fittest. The final clue is Wall of Roots; other Survival decks tend not to play them.

Hardness to play with 8/10

Solidarity
Solidarity is, with the exception of Belcher, the only pure combo deck in the format. It's based around getting a High Tide and using Reset and Turnabout to untap lands and generate obscene amounts of mana. It then uses the mana to cast cards such as Meditate and Words of Wisdom to draw huge amounts of cards so you can keep playing High Tides and Resets. Then it uses one of two routes to victory. Either it can use Brain Freeze with a large Storm count or Stroke of Genius to deck the opponent. The draw method has picked up popularity largely due to Gaea's Blessing (preventing your milling them with Brain Freeze). The deck averages a kill at about turn 4, which has proven effective in some metagames. This deck has strong matchups against most Aggro decks, since it can usually outrace them. Though it only has Force of Will as protection, so it can fall to control or prison strategies.

What to look for? Spotting Solidarity is relatively hard. There are only a few things to watch out for. The first is it not countering your game-winning threats with mana open and the second is Mystical Tutoring for its combo pieces

Hardness to play with 6/10




2-Land Belcher

Belcher does one thing that none of the other decks do in Legacy: it can win on the first turn, and can get pretty consistent turn 2-3 wins. It does this by utilizing fast mana cards like Chrome Mox, Elvish Spirit Guide, and Lion's Eye Diamond. To get the combo or mana needed, Belcher uses a wide base of tutors ranging from Spoils of the Vault to Living Wish (there is a very wide choice of tutors to be used). Its big weakness is its reliance on Goblin Charbelcher as its sole win condition (no, Sprit Guide doesn’t count!!!) and if it's countered, you're up a creek and using your hands to paddle. To try and counteract this it uses Goblin Welder and Duress to provide reuse and disruption against control.

What to look for? Seeing as there are currently few decks that use Black tutors in Legacy, its use of any of them should give clues to you. The next is Land Grant fetching Taiga or Bayou and finally is its use of lots of mana acceleration spells like Dark Ritual and Lion's Eye Diamond

Hardness to play with 7/10


Solitaire
Solitaire is at its core an Enchantress deck that draws lots of cards via Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress’s Presence. It casts lots of cheap enchantments that prolong the game like Ground Seal, Elephant Grass, and Solitary Confinement while drawing more cards, which leads to the game being prolonged more. Cards like Exploration and Gaea's Touch allow for more mana to hit the table. This, coupled with the draw of the Enchantress engine, allows you to turn cards into mana. Within a short while you will have drawn a large amount of the deck. It is at this stage that one of the three most common kill cards comes into play. They are Words of War and Words of Wilding, which take advantage of the fact you may may not need to draw cards any more or can't draw cards! Sacred Mesa comes to abuse the mana created by Serra's Sanctum

What to look for? Savannahs and lots of Enchantments are usually the big giveaway. Solitaire is a slowish combo deck so spotting these will happen often. You just need to do it before they get on a roll.

Hardness to play with 6/10


WeldSur
In this GRU aggro/combo deck, Red's main role in the deck is just for Anger and Goblin Welder (and don’t forget Squee). It utilizes the now infamous Survival of the Fittest to fetch cards and dump Artifact Creatures in the graveyard to be recurred by the Goblin Welder. It also sports the usual Survival of the Fittest mana accelerant cards (Birds of paradise, Qurion Ranger, and Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary). Add to this that WeldSur sports a full tool box of creatures similar to ATS so it can silver bullet answers to most threats. Getting cards in the graveyard isn’t just done by the Survival Of the Fittest. That's where blue comes in, adding draw and discard via Thirst for Knowledge and Intuition. Its main path to victory is usually via recurring a Sundering Titan to cripple its foe's mana while applying beats to the face. If that doesn’t work it can fall back on the flying Platinum Angel (rarely) and the damage counters from a Triskelion. Some versions play heavy mana artifacts maindeck like Pentad Prism and create large amounts of mana by combining it with the Welder. Some other decks use Crucible of Worlds+Wasteland to apply even more pressure.

Hardness to play with 6/10


Scrub decks
First of all, I in no way recommend playing any of the following decks. But sadly, people never learn and these decks still keep appearing. To reinforce this point I will NOT be giving any deck lists. Also, I apologize in advance for some of the rant-like side comments.

Suicide Black
This is an old, old, old, and even older deck. It relies on early disruption in the form of discard spells like Duress, Hymm to Tourach, and Cabal therapy. It attempts to control creature threats (and fails) via Smother and Diabolic Edict. Finally, it tries to win fast with cheap efficient creatures like Phyrexian Negator and Nantuko Shades while cheaper versions will run cards like Dauthi Horror. The only thing that Sui Black has going for it is that Dark Ritual can win games for it.

What to look for? Swamps. If you see Swamps it's Sui Black!!! Well, it could be some horrid MBC variant but, well, that is even easier to roll then any Sui Black deck.

Ten Land Stompy
Another old archetype which people just will not let die in its old glory. They persist in pushing a deck that loses to almost every deck in the field. Well, if you don’t care about winning, Stompy relies on a swarm of G casting creatures like Llanowar Elves and Rogue Elephant (there are a lot more but well I would rather type a side comment than them!). It uses creature pump like Rancor and Bounty of the Hunt to apply fast damage. Finally, some versions (the better ones imo) utilize Winter Orb to try and slow a lot of the 1.5 mana hungry decks down enough to win.

What to look for? First is forests. Second is creatures that have a high Power/Toughness to mana cost. Cards like Wild Dogs and Ghazban Ogres are giveaways.

UW Jank
Ok don’t get me wrong. "White Blue Bull ****" is very good. But that's a completely different deck. By UW Jank I mean old style UW control that just doesn’t fit or adapt well in the Legacy scene. It plays far too much counter, too little draw, and a minimum of threats to win. Its denial base is usually ten to sixteen counterspells and a few Disenchants. Some run the Accumulated Knowledge/Intuition engine (don’t get me started). Finally, a stupid amount of creature control like Swords to Plowshares, Exile, Wing Shards, and mass removal like Wrath of God and Nevinyrral's Disk that gives it an auto loss against any control deck in the field. It wins via two to three Morphlings or Exalted Angels with the possibility of a few Decree of Justices being thrown in. I will comment that it's one of the better Jank decks, but that’s only because it’s ok against the Aggro decks in the format.

What to look for? Look out for as many Plains as Islands. Often this is done because of the double white in Wrath of God's casting cost. Otherwise, just lookout for an excessive amount of creature control.

Well I hope this helps you get into the Legacy format. At worst I hope you had a good read.

Thanks to Goblinboy and Binary for editing, Belgareth for some of the skeletons I fleshed out, random posters in Legacy, my test readers and finally ILoveatogz for the banner.

L8r, bubs

Qwerty
:bmage:

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