Kickin' It Old School

Posted in Perilous Research on December 26, 2013

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

2013 has been a great year for Magic. Over the last year, my column has brought you up-to-date metagame analysis. We've discussed major tournaments and Magic Online events in an effort to better understand what matters in a given format. Last month, we explored the state of Legacy in the wake of Eternal Weekend. Eternal formats allow extremely high-level strategy to unfold and the decks tend to be very exciting. Come take a walk down a memory lane of decklists with me!




Last weekend, the game's most devout Legacy and Vintage players descended on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to battle it out at Eternal Weekend. Eternal formats are, at times, absurdly complex. Variance exists in sheer power, but the slower games are a place where the greatest players have an opportunity to maneuver themselves perfectly, playing around an opponent's interactive cards while extracting maximum value from each Brainstorm or Wasteland. Legacy had garnished a significant following over the last few years, and the Magic Online Legacy community is at its strongest; Legacy Daily Events not during graveyard hours have been firing consistently for the last few weeks. Today, we'll be taking a look at Legacy's best offerings from Eternal Weekend and Magic Online. Be ready to read a lot of new (very old) cards, because some of this stuff can get pretty wacky!

Decks that combine Sensei's Divining Top with Counterbalance and Entreat the Angels are enjoying success both on Magic Online and in high-level face-to-face competition. Blue-Red-Green Delver of Secrets strategies and their variants are another huge portion of the metagame. Many other strategies that were believed to be dominant forces in the Legacy metagame were proven or disproved in the flurry of action from last weekend. Let's jump right into some decklists!

Brad Jarmin's RUG Delver

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Blue-Red-Green Delver of Secrets tempo decks have been a dominant force in the Legacy metagame for a long time, but recent tournaments led many to believe that the deck had fallen from grace. The deck uses efficiently costed creatures and the game's best disruption/reach to close games quickly and decisively. Fortunately, the deck rose from the ashes last weekend and delivered tons of success at the Legacy Championships and 4–0ed plenty of Dailies on Magic Online. I chose to look at Brad Jarman's list because the numbers feel very right to me. Most RUG Delver lists are very similar these days, but a few copies of Spell Pierce and a singleton Fire amp; Ice make this deck capable of some very aggressive/disruptive games.


Bayou364364's Esper Stoneforge

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The first Dailies deck we'll be looking at today is an Esper Stoneforge Mystic deck that uses some of the most powerful spells in the game to out-tempo its opponent in much the same way that a RUG Delver deck would. Playing these colors instead of red and green pushes the deck in a different direction, though. Instead of playing Lightning Bolt effects, Tarmogoyf, and Nimble Mongoose, this deck uses Geist of Saint Traft, Hymn to Tourach, Swords to Plowshares, Dark Confidant, and Stoneforge Mystic. The general idea of the deck is similar, but this deck doesn't push its best draws to the same limits as the RUG strategy, meaning that Esper Stoneforge players won't be receiving as many "free" wins. However, this deck's longevity and card-advantage engines mean that it's happy to go into a long game against almost every opponent.


rufusmcdufus's Goblins!

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Goblins may seem like it's outdated at this point, but the deck is very consistent, it grinds out card advantage better than almost every other strategy in the format, and it's nearly impossible to lose to opposing creature strategies. I like this list a lot in particular because of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Splashing white in the Goblin deck may seem like an odd way to get a big Price of Progress to the face or Back to Basics locking you down, but the defensive power offered by Thalia, Guardian of Thraben against the combo strategies is unmatched. It's unlikely a combo opponent will sideboard to deal with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben against Goblins, but players should be wary of this possibility going forward because it seems like exactly what the Goblin deck wants to do with its sideboard.


oarsman's RWU Miracles

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Paul Lynch's RWU Miracles

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Here we see two different versions of the Miracles deck. The Miracles deck uses Sensei's Divining Top and Brainstorm to set up the top of its library in an effort to guarantee getting the miracle on Entreat the Angels or Terminus, or to counter a spell for no cards with the help of Counterbalance. Eventually, the Miracles player will have his or her opponent locked out of playing cheap spells and can clean up anything larger with full access to its massive range of reactive spells.


The deck is strong against Combo and creature-based Aggro strategies, but it struggles with control mirrors and decks that use high casting costs primarily, like MUD. Both of these players chose different routes with their list, but the archetype has proven itself to be the clear front-runner for best Control strategy in Legacy. The Enlightened Tutor list has a much higher likelihood of playing a card that completely colds its opponent and locks up the game quickly, but the more stock version of the deck can reliably draw individually powerful cards that may be stronger in Control mirrors. True Control mirrors will be significantly less common in face-to-face tournaments, where playing a Legacy Control deck can be scary and difficult to finish rounds with.


Mark Tocco's Ad Nauseam Tendrils

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Ad NauseamTendrils, or ANT, is one of the most explosive strategies in Legacy. The deck uses cards like Dark Ritual to produce a lot of mana and a high storm count in the early turns and kill the opponent with one massive Tendrils of Agony after drawing a huge wad of cards with Ad Nauseam. The deck performs well on Magic Online, but its weakness to Trinisphere; Thalia, Guardian of Thraben; and Counterbalance make it a liability at a face-to-face tournament, where the metagame tends to be much more diverse.


Greg Price's Legacy MUD

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Legacy MUD is one of the more interesting decks in Legacy. The deck uses Kuldotha Forgemaster to power out a lethal Blightsteel Colossus or get its opponent down to no permanents with Spine of Ish Sah, while Trinisphere prevents the opponent from interacting in any way that could be relevant. An elusive creature, the deck occasionally emerges from a hole somewhere in the Midwest and crushes a tournament, but it's rare we see the deck do anything on Magic Online, mostly because such a small sample of people have put it together.


Osyp Lebedowicz's UR Delver

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One of the biggest questions coming into Eternal Weekend was whether or not we would see True-Name Nemesis at the top tables. From what I heard, only a handful of Wise-Williams chose to play the card, and Pro Tour Champion Osyp Lebedowicz was able to pilot his Blue-Red Delver deck all the way to the finals of the tournament. The Blue-Red Delver deck is more consistent than its green counterpart, and True-Name Nemesis is surely going to be one of the better cards for a tempo strategy in Legacy. Sure, cards like Terminus, Engineered Explosives, and Wrath of God exist, but an opponent will usually be spending more mana or resources removing a True-Name Nemesis that already cracked him or her in the head than it cost to play the True-Name Nemesis in the first place. I like Osyp's list a lot; Young Pyromancer can make for some very flooded boards on the earliest turns of the game and the deck gets access to Blood Moon for post-sideboarded games, allowing it to pick up free wins even when it doesn't get to protect a turn-one Delver of Secrets or turn-three True-Name Nemesis.


Ari Lax's Death and Taxes

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The only two things that are truly inevitable are Death and Taxes. The deck aims to beat its opponent down with an array of hard-to-deal-with creatures that disrupt the opponent. Mangara of Corondor may seem like an odd inclusion, but one can use Mangara of Corondor in conjunction with Æther Vial set on three and Karakas to get a one-mana "exile target permanent" every turn of the game.


Ari Lax proved the deck's strength (and his own mastery) this weekend with this incredibly tuned White Weenie deck. The deck has a ton of play no matter how you look at it, and its general baseline of cards, while not as impressive in terms of sheer power, are well suited to deal with the current Legacy metagame. One thing that particularly impresses me is Lax's sideboard. Two copies of Enlightened Tutor alongside one or two copies of a number of HIGH IMPACT/inexpensive artifacts and enchantments mean that Lax essentially gets to play three or four copies of nine different cards, in addition to a miser's copy of Sunlance and Mindbreak Trap for the appropriate matchups.


Legacy continues to evolve despite the pool of cards being over twenty years deep. Vintage Masters looms on the Magic Online horizon and I suspect the availability of those cards on Magic Online will push competitive Vintage to a new level in the coming months. Remember, the player has a lot more to do with winning than the deck when you play Legacy. Practice hard, be honest with yourself and numbers, and take as much criticism from well-versed Legacy players as you can.

Knowledge is Power!




Jacob Van LunenJacob Van Lunen
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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.

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