A Lasting Legacy

Posted in Perilous Research on October 30, 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

Welcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG.com's exclusive Magic Online column. Last weekend, 481 Legacy stalwarts showed up in Philadelphia to try their hand in the Legacy Championship. In the coming weeks, we'll continue to watch as the Magic Online Legacy metagame adapts to powerful delve cards from Khans of Tarkir. Today, we'll be discussing the delve cards' effect on the Legacy format and taking a look at the best-performing decks from last weekend's Legacy Championship!

With Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time in the format, Legacy has become a much different animal. So, how did Legacy change in response to Khans of Tarkir?

First, mana creatures like Noble Hierarch and Deathrite Shaman went down in value by a significant margin. It's hard to play cards that interact unfavorably with Forked Bolt and Lightning Bolt in the new Legacy. Historically, these types of cards haven't been that bad for mana guys because, in the strictest of terms, it's just an opponent trading one card and one mana for one card and one mana. However, the one mana spent by the opponent has a lot of hidden value. The Lightning Bolt that's killing our Deathrite Shaman might also be flipping a Delver of Secrets, making a token with Young Pyromancer, or making Treasure Cruise have a reduced casting cost. The hidden advantages add up quickly.

One for one discard spells become worse. Sure, they're still great cards against the combo strategies, but picking apart an opponent's hand only to see it get refilled by Treasure Cruise is backbreaking. The decks that play Treasure Cruise have very aggressive game plans and can punish our life total when we're using turns, cards, and mana to affect their hand and not the battlefield.

Next, Tarmogoyf gets worse. Opponents are exiling their graveyards, so Tarmogoyf now trades with Lightning Bolt a pretty decent portion of the time. Additionally, Young Pyromancer makes in unfavorable to attack with a Tarmogoyf because it can just be chump-blocked indefinitely while the opponent swings back for significant amounts of damage. The decreased value of discard spells contributes significantly to Tarmogoyf's downfall.

Dig Through Time gives miracles a legitimate card-advantage engine. In the past, the deck has relied on assembling Counterbalance/Sensei's Divining Top early in many matchups. Now, the deck gets to be more malleable, especially in post-boarded games, finding whatever tool it needs at a given time, allowing the deck to play a more pure-control game. The deck has also been historically bare minimum in terms of cards it can pitch to Force of Will, and a few copies of Dig Through Time do a lot to pad that hole in the game plan.

Protection from red is a very real ability in the new Legacy. Kor Firewalker is one of the best cards against the Blue-Red Delver decks and we can probably expect a lot more of those, at least in the sideboards, in Death and Taxes–style White Weenie decks.

Reanimator and decks that go big with cards like Veteran Explorer are also much better than they've been in the past. Dropping Griselbrand into play on the second or third turn is nearly impossible for the Blue-Red Delver decks to beat.

The Blue-Red Delver strategies want to be aggressively trading one for one while attacking the opponent's life total with backup disruption. We can't play their game if we want to win. We need to weather the storm and win the game with cards that require two cards or more if we're going to stand a chance. Cards that get better in this regard include Brimaz, King of Oreskos; True-Name Nemesis; Wurmcoil Engine; Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite; and Griselbrand.

With Grand Prix New Jersey right around the corner and various other high-profile Legacy events on the horizon, this seems like a great time to get involved with the format. What should we play? Here are the decklists of the top 32 finishers from the Legacy Championship.

Zach Dobbin's Helmerator

Kevin Jones's Blue-Red Delver

Nate Sturm's Punishing Maverick

Ralph Betesh's Temur Delver

Eric Markowicz's Jeskai Delver

John Grudzina's Jeskai Delver

Eric De Luca's Sultai Delver

Tony Chiarlanza's Blue-Red Delver

JD Nir's Ad Nauseam

Derek Reda's Esper Deathblade

Zack Mullin's Miracles

Jake Mondello's Omni-Show