Our Greatest Legacy

Posted in Perilous Research on October 1, 2015

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

Welcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG's exclusive Magic Online column. Legacy was flipped on its head about this time last year, when Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time were printed and instantly became staples of the format. Treasure Cruise was quickly banned, but Dig Through Time lingered and warped the Legacy metagame into a world dominated by blue combo strategies. Dig Through Time is finally getting the axe with the Battle for Zendikar banned and restricted update. Today, we'll be looking at the future of Legacy in a world without unreasonably strong card selection.

It's hard to quantify how much the Dig Through Time ban will change, but it certainly seems like we can expect some major shifts as a result. At this point, it's difficult to determine where things will go, but the upcoming Legacy offers up an exciting format that rewards players' skill and innovation more than perhaps any other Constructed format being played at this point in time.

What's going to be good in the new Legacy? That's a hard question to answer. The format has warped itself around blue combo strategies so much over the last year that we've entered a brand new world of excitement. Attempting to approach the format on a grand scale is obviously daunting, considering the staggering size of the card pool. Fortunately, there's a wealth of data at our hands that can help guide us to powerful new strategies going forward.

The first place we should look is the last major Legacy event before Khans of Tarkir. About one year ago, StarCityGames held a Legacy Open event in Atlanta; Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise were both yet to be printed, and the Legacy world we see there is a much different environment than the one we've now grown accustomed to.

Our journey into the new Legacy starts a little over a year ago in Atlanta. Let's check out some decklists!

Chi Hoi Yim's Miracles—Winner, StarCityGames.com Legacy Open

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Miracles remains the control strategy of choice in Legacy. The deck is powerful enough to operate without Dig Through Time, and the combination of Sensei's Divining Top and Counterbalance gives pilots a tremendous amount of breathing room once the combo is assembled. We can expect Miracles strategies to be favorites in the earliest weeks of the new Legacy format.

Brad Nelson's Infect—Finals StarCityGames.com Legacy Open

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Infect had a stellar weekend in Atlanta. Brad Nelson made it to the finals and Todd Anderson finished in the Top 4. It's hard to argue with those kind of results. Infect seems like the combo strategy that benefited the most from the bannings. The deck has a strange kind of consistency, and it's able to abuse Brainstorm in a way that's largely been forgotten about in the age of Dig Through Time.

James Hess's Elves—Top 4 StarCityGames.com Legacy Open

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Elves seems like the direction that a lot of people will go in world without Dig Through Time. The major issue with Elves in the new Legacy is that it's generally weak to Miracles, which seems to be a likely avenue for blue combo players to take now. Still, the raw power of Legacy Elves is unquestioned, and the deck's greatest pilots will prove the deck to be a tier 1 entity.

Byron King's Shardless Sultai—Top 8 StarCityGames.com Legacy Open

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The biggest winner from the banning of Dig Through Time, in my opinion, is Shardless Agent. Shardless Agent in conjunction with Brainstorm quickly becomes one of the absolute best things we can be doing in Legacy. Hymn to Tourach and Abrupt Decay will be at their very best, and Wasteland will, once again, be one of the most powerful options for virtually every kind of Legacy deck. I want to be casting Shardless Agent in my next Legacy tournament.

I decided to dig through Magic Online results from the last week in search of decks that use Shardless Agent. I was happily surprised to see that two separate Daily Events were won by Shardless Agent strategies that didn't include Dig Through Time. These lists seem like the perfect place to start if we're looking for the best Shardless Agent strategy.

Let's take a look at what Shardless Agent has been doing in Daily Events this week!

BILLYNOOO's Shardless Sultai—1st Place, Magic Online Daily Event

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Hymn to Tourach and Abrupt Decay are exactly what I want to be cascading into right now, so this list is already very close to where we'd want to be with a Shardless Agent strategy. We can setup up perfect cascades with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Brainstorm. This deck does an absolutely stellar job of destroying other control strategies. This is very similar to what I would likely play in a Legacy tournament next weekend.

We can go even deeper, though. STICKY53 played a Shardless deck that's particularly well-positioned against other Shardless decks, while still being exceptional in the control matchups. In fact, the version of the deck we're about to look at seems better against Elves and Infect, too. Perhaps we need to go deeper down our respective rabbit holes to find what we're looking for in the new Legacy!

STICKY53's Four-Color Shardless—1st Place, Magic Online Daily Event

Download Arena Decklist

Four-Color Shardless offers up everything we could want for the new Legacy format. Bloodbraid Elf effectively attacks opposing planeswalkers. Abrupt Decay deals with problem cards like Counterbalance. Ancestral Vision and Hymn to Tourach (if the deck chooses to play one or two copies) ensure that the deck will always be ahead on cards. Postboard, the deck gets a lot of powerful options. If Elves and Infect end up being the most popular combo strategies (which seems likely), then we can throw a couple copies of Izzet Staticaster in the sideboard and find ourselves with a deck that systematically picks apart the most controlling and combo-centric opponents, while also dominating the Shardless mirror by being much better against opposing planeswalkers. This deck can set up some brutal plays with Brainstorm. In fact, it's hard to imagine any deck in Legacy that gets to better abuse Brainstorm than a strategy that's playing a whole bunch of cascade spells. Brainstorm is precisely the card we want to be abusing the most with Dig Through Time out of the format.

Other strategies will also benefit from the recent changes in Legacy. For example, Stoneforge Mystic decks that have previously been outclassed by the blue combo decks will, once again, find themselves in tier-1 territory. These decks certainly have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the cascade strategies.

Legacy has entered a new and exciting phase. The coming weeks will showcase the format's rediscovered diversity. We can look forward to a Legacy wherein players are rewarded like never before for knowing their deck and the format. Go forth! Brew with all your might! Sift through countless available card options and forge the perfect weapon for what promises to be a world like nothing we've seen before!

Knowledge is power!

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