The Grandest of Scales

Posted in Perilous Research on November 13, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

This weekend, thousands of players from around the world will be making their way to New Jersey, the greatest place on Earth, to battle in Legacy for their shot to become the Grand Prix New Jersey champion. Legacy has come a long way since its inception nearly a decade ago. Today, we'll be discussing the state of Legacy in preparation for Grand Prix New Jersey!

With Legacy, we're going to need to approach things from a metagame perspective. In smaller formats like Standard we can look at all the legal cards and draw a conclusion about the deck or decks with the highest mean power level and have a pretty good idea of where we need to be. In Legacy, the cannon of available cards is far too large to digest in a reasonable time frame. Instead, we can look at the decks that have done well in recent tournaments and draw conclusions about what cards and strategies are best positioned. We're lucky to have just had a major Legacy event a few weeks ago. The Legacy Championship at Eternal Weekend gave us a glimpse of the potential Legacy metagame this weekend. Let's talk about what cards seem best positioned for this weekend.

To start, we should take a look at the Top 32 decks from The Legacy Championship. Those can be found here. Using this knowledge, we can extrapolate a lot about the cards that are best positioned in the current Legacy format.

Brainstorm is still the best card in Legacy, and it isn't particularly close. If our deck has the ability to cast Brainstorm effectively, then we should absolutely be playing four copies and we should never sideboard any of them out. Brainstorm is Legacy's biggest skill tester. The ability to use Brainstorm better than our opponents will result in a lot of match wins. We could probably write an entire column just about Brainstorm, and many people already have. In most situations, we want to maximize the value of our Brainstorm by combining it with an effect that lets us search our library, like Stoneforge Mystic or Flooded Strand; this lets us shuffle away the two least relevant cards in our hand while drawing three fresh cards. We don't need to use the Brainstorm right away, even when we have a fetch land and two unexciting cards in our hand; oftentimes it's wise to hold the Brainstorm until we know what we're looking for, especially if we're ahead in the card advantage war already. We may want to use our Brainstorm aggressively to set up a big play like Jace, the Mind Sculptor with Force of Will backup, but we shouldn't be sacrificing perfectly good Brainstorms unless we feel it's our only route to victory.

Lightning Bolt has become the removal spell of choice in Legacy, and it's much better than it was previously now that Delve is a big part of the format. With Delve cards, Lightning Bolt can kill Tarmogoyf. Lightning Bolt also attacks players life totals and makes the Blue-Red Delver decks very volatile once they get ahead on the board.

Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time have drastically changed the landscape of the format. Discard spells have become much worse, and incidental graveyard hate is much better positioned.

Stoneforge Mystic is very well positioned right now. The card is tremendous against all versions of Delver and gives us a strong game plan against decks that are weak to Umezawa's Jitte, like Elves. If we're playing a matchup where the second piece of Equipment is unexciting, then we can always Brainstorm away our Batterskull or Umezawa's Jitte to find it again with a second or third copy of Stoneforge Mystic.

Kor Firewalker is really good right now. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw some number of this in certain main decks at the Grand Prix. The card is best positioned against Burn decks and Blue-Red Delver, which will likely be two of the most popular decks this weekend. Even Jeskai decks are cutting down on Swords to Plowshares. We really want to equip this with Umezawa's Jitte. The card definitely feels like it warrants enough power to play one or two in a main deck, especially if it can be shuffled away with Brainstorm.

Griselbrand can be cheated into play with Show and Tell, Sneak Attack, or reanimation spells. Griselbrand is one of the best answers to the Blue-Red Delver laden field. Again, with most of the removal becoming burn spells and much less countermagic in the blue decks, it seems like cheating Griselbrand and his buddy Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play could be a great plan for this weekend.

Counterbalance could also be a major player this weekend. In combination with Sensei's Divining Top, Counterbalance does a very good job of shutting down the relevant cards from Delver decks and most of the combo strategies. Miracles could be one of the best positioned decks coming into this weekend.

Prison cards like Trinisphere and Chalice of the Void also seem quite strong. Chalice for one or Trinisphere on the first turn is usually going to be game for a lot of opponents.

Combo decks that are not small-creature based like Storm, Helm of Obedience, Sneak and Show, and others are also very well positioned in a format where people are cutting countermagic in favor of burn to keep up with the Delver decks. We could see a lot of explosive combos at the top tables this weekend.

Now that we know which cards will likely have the biggest impact this weekend, we can start taking a look at some decklists. The most recent Legacy Daily Event did a good job of representing the format's current state.

Let's take a look at the undefeated decks from the most recent Legacy daily event on Magic Online!

W0RDJUICEBOX's Storm (4–0)

Download Arena Decklist

Storm is capable of turn-one kills and has one of the most consistent combos in Legacy. The deck traditionally has trouble with excessive countermagic and discard spells, but people are mostly just playing Daze and Force of Will as countermagic and cards like Thoughtseize, Duress, and Inquisition of Kozilek have become significantly worse with the delve cards in the format. Storm could have an opportunity to shine this weekend.

eh loko's Miracles (4–0)

Download Arena Decklist

Miracles is considered tier 1 by all of those in the know when it comes to Legacy. The deck is capable of tremendously powerful plays and Counterbalance/Sensei's Divining Top is especially well positioned in a format that's evolved into mostly inexpensive one- or two-mana cards. The deck also gets to continue playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which is still the most insane thing ever.

WraithHunter's Blue-Red Delver (4–0)

Download Arena Decklist

Blue-Red Delver is the deck to beat coming into this weekend. The deck presents an unbelievably fast clock and disrupts the opponent while mounting pressure without ever running out of resources thanks to Treasure Cruise. The true strength of this strategy is that it's the best aggro deck in the format and it also switches to a control role quite effectively.

Grand Prix New Jersey promises to be one of the largest Magic tournaments of all time. Legacy is an exciting format with big plays. Don't miss live coverage of the event. I'll be bringing written content to you guys all weekend long, and I'll do my best to leave no Legacy stone unturned.

Knowledge is power!

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