Ten Classic Legacy Archetypes

Posted in Event Coverage on November 26, 2016

By Chapman Sim

For those of you unfamiliar with Legacy or don't dabble with it all that much, that's what I'm here for. In a matter of minutes, you'll be able to get a quick overview to this high-exciting format and what to expect this weekend at Grand Prix Chiba.

Legacy is non-rotating format which means that every single card—with the exception of a small ban list —can be used. This makes Legacy a diverse format with extremely high power level because you're using the best cards from throughout Magic's illustrated history. While there are dozens of different archetypes, some strategies are more popular than others!

Here is a quick summary of ten classic Legacy archetypes which you'll likely encounter this weekend! Ready?

1. Miracles

Miracles is a White-Blue control deck that often splashes red for some sideboard cards. The deck is so named because it uses Terminus and Entreat the Angels together with Brainstorm and Sensei's Divining Top to help cast them at a discount. Since Sensei's Divining Top is in the mix, it makes perfect sense to also play with Counterbalance and pilots of this deck will often be able to lock out their opponent by manipulating the top of their library.

Force of Will provides protection against unfair combo decks, while Swords to Plowshares is one of the best removal spells to ever have been printed in the game. The red splash is usually for Pyroblast, Blood Moon, Izzet Staticaster or some burn-based removal spells.

2. Grixis Delver

There are many shades of Delver decks but Grixis remains the most popular variant and probably the one that puts up the most consistent results. It essentially works like the Modern version, except that the countermagic suite has been replaced with Force of Will, Daze and Stifle.

Aside from Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer and Gurmag Angler, Deathrite Shaman is also excellent in providing a lot of utility. This is a deck that seeks to clock opponents quickly while backed up with removal spells, burn spells and counterspells.

3. Eldrazi

When Oath of the Gatewatch unleashed a horde of Eldrazis, it wrecked havoc in Modern because of the ability to summon them cheaply with Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin. The latter received the banhammer in Modern, putting a stop to its dominance.

However, the archetype is alive and well in Legacy!

Aside from the ability to play both above-mentioned lands, Legacy Eldrazi enthusiasts also gain access to Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors and Wasteland! The deck is capable of very unfair openings involving free Endless Ones and Eldrazi Mimics which is often accompanied by game-winning and soul-crushing Thought-Knot Seers and Reality Smashers. Most importantly, the ability to power out early Chalice of the Void is another aspect that makes the Eldrazi deck so terrifying.

4. Sneak and Show / Omnitell

If you like to play with unfair combo cards like Sneak Attack and Show and Tell, then either of these decks would appeal to you! Using these two cards, the aim is to “cheat” out either Griselbrand, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Omniscience. The combo deck sculpts its hand with the usual Brainstorm and Ponder, protects it with Force of Will and Spell Pierce, while accelerating into (and playing around Daze) with Ancient Tomb and Lotus Petal.

Ever since Dig Through Time got banned, Show and Tell archetypes have taken a hit and it is also likely that Sneak Attack might just fall out of popularity all together.

5. Elves

Also commonly referred to as “Elfball” or “Combo Elves”, the deck draws strength from Gaea's Cradle, Glimpse of Nature and Green Sun's Zenith, which in combination creates an extremely powerful engine that can win you the game as early as turn two. If you have Heritage Druid, two Nettle Sentinels and Glimpse of Nature already resolved, you'll effectively be gaining mana for every one mana Elf you cast and you will soon be able to draw a lot of cards.

To win the game, you also have access to Natural Order which helps you to find Craterhoof Behemoth or Shaman of the Pack for the lethal blow!

6. Blue-Black / Black-Red Reanimator

Reanimator strategies have traditionally revolved around Reanimate and Animate Dead and you can easily get the creature you want into the graveyard with the help of Entomb. Blue variants play Careful Study but red variants have Faithless Looting, which is a significant upgrade. At the cost of forgoing Force of Will and Daze, Black-Red Reanimator player get their disruption in the form of Chancellor of the Annex and Thoughtseize.

The Blue-Black version is a classic, while the Black-Red version is one of the newer kids on the block and with it being popular on Magic Online recently, you should expect to see it running around Chiba as well.

7. Storm

The winner of Grand Prix Prague 2016 took down the whole event with this combo deck that wins by casting at least nine spells in a single turn before firing off a lethal Tendrils of Agony. It doesn't look as hard as it seems, because some of the spells are either free to cast, or they generate you mana to help you cast more spells.

Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual and Cabal Ritual contribute to the “storm count”, while providing mana to keep the engine running with Gitaxian Probe, Brainstorm and Ponder. Once they find Past in Flames, they'll be able to discard their entire hand, cast their entire graveyard, and also have hellbent for Infernal Tutor to search up their namesake sorcery!

8. Lands

As the name suggests, this deck is a rather special one in a sense that it runs more lands than usual. Way more lands than usual, if I may add. Exploration and Manabond helps them get around the rule that you can only play one land a turn and they have a lot of utility despite not having very many spells. Yes, you have Life from the Loam and Crop Rotation, but those cards only act to help you get to the land you want.

What are some of these special lands, you might ask?

Well, for starters you can always ruin your opponent's day by destroying all their lands with Wasteland and Ghost Quarter before locking down creature strategies with The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale or Glacial Chasm. And then you can use Thespian's Stage to copy Dark Depths in order to get a 20/20 indestructible creature. Maze of Ith is “removal” that takes shape in the form of a land. If need be, you also have the combo of Punishing Fires and Grove of the Burnwillows. Lands is a unique hybrid of a control deck with a combo element that places heavy emphasis on the recursion.

9. Shardless Sultai

Shardless Sultai is a midrange deck that seeks to out-grind the opponent and it is built around extracting value. The deck is able to trade resources pretty well because it has a lot of tools to get back an edge. For example, Shardless Agent is almost always a two-for-one and if you manage to cascade into Ancestral Vision that's pretty much the jackpot.

Other tools available to the Shardless Sultai player are Deathrite Shaman, Llliana of the Veil, Abrupt Decay, Hymn to Tourach and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

10. Death and Taxes

The etymology of the deck's name is not clear but this is what the Legacy community knows to be the premier White Weenie aggro deck of the format. Using Æther Vial, it is able to quickly assemble an army of very efficient yet disruptive creatures such as Mother of Runes, Phyrexian Revoker and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. There's also the availability of Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull and the ability to reuse effects and protect creatures from spot removal with Flickerwisp.

Death and Taxes also receives a huge upgrade with the addition of Thalia, Heretic of Cathar, Sanctum Prelate, Recruiter of the Guard and even Palace Jailer. More on that later!

Of course, there are numerous other decks out there such as Maverick, Aluren, Food Chain, Merfolk, Burn, Jund, Dredge and more. Oh yes, Infect also won Grand Prix Columbus 2016 so let's not forget about it just yet! Now that you have a brief overview of Legacy, let's watch things unfold together!

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