How Reid Duke Wins in Legacy

Posted in GRAND PRIX SEATTLE-TACOMA 2015 on November 8, 2015

By Hallie Santo

"The best way to win in Legacy is to stick with one deck and master it." That's the central argument of "The Best Way to Win in Legacy," an article that Platinum Pro Reid Duke wrote in April of last year. At the time, Reid was dissatisfied with his results in Legacy tournaments, and he now attributes those results to lack of experience with the various decks he played over the years. After stints piloting Jund, Elves, and Reanimator, he realized that the key to success was to choose a deck and commit to it—maybe even for years.

The advice Reid gave his younger self still holds true eighteen months later. He started playing Jeskai Miracles shortly after writing the piece and has found that his results have improved as he's gained more experience with the deck and with the Legacy format.

"The only way to prepare for a Legacy tournament is to play in other Legacy tournaments," he said. "Even if you sit down at the kitchen table and try to practice the five, ten... fifteen most important matchups, there's just so much else out there. So the key is to be prepared for anything."

A 2,000-player Legacy tournament can bring plenty of surprises, so Reid advocates playing a solid deck and knowing what it can do in a variety of situations. His choice for the weekend: none other than Jeskai Miracles, a deck he now knows like the back of his hand—and one he contends is "The Deck to Beat" in Legacy. Miracles is the format's one true control deck, capable of countering countless spells with the combination of Sensei's Divining Top and Counterbalance. Top, Ponder, Brainstorm, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor give the deck superior card selection, which allow it to answer problems before setting up a winning board state. In the right hands, Miracles plays like a well-oiled machine, but it requires intimate knowledge of the Legacy format—how each deck functions, which spells are worth countering—in addition to good sequencing.

"Miracles is one of the best decks in the format, and it's one that I've found rewards hard work and practice," Reid said. "That makes it a good deck to stick with for a while."

Reid Duke re-evaluated what he needed to do to improve his Legacy game. Over a year later, and his work with Jeskai Miracles has proven very fruitful.

As a professional Magic player, Reid has to spend the majority of his time preparing for Standard and Limited tournaments, which require a slightly different skill set. Rotating formats like Standard reward innovation, adaptability, and attention to the finer details of metagame shifts. That's not the case in Legacy, where powerful new cards slowly trickle into the format over the years. But as Reid points out, Standard's smaller card pool equates to fewer powerful decks, which often means that the metagame is more predictable.

"In other Constructed formats, the picture is a lot clearer," Reid explained. "I can do more focused practice for a format like Standard where I know what I'm going to face. There aren't going to be that many surprises."

Preparing for a Standard tournament is like solving a puzzle. Preparing for a Legacy tournament, meanwhile, is like training yourself to run a marathon.

Of course, when your schedule is packed with Standard, Modern, and Limited Grand Prix, it can be hard to find time to practice Legacy. Reid admits that he didn't have as much time as he would have liked to prepare for Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma—yet another reason to register a familiar decklist. With the Legacy Magic Online Championship Series coming up in December, however, he was determined to clear his schedule as much as possible and dedicate enough time to playing Miracles. He spent the week leading up to Grand Prix Indianapolis practicing Legacy ("I know Standard well enough," he admitted to himself), and has devoted this entire week to the format as well. It seems his hard work is paying off: at the time of writing this, he's currently undefeated with Miracles, and the patience he's displayed in his matches today has been remarkable to watch.

When asked what advice he'd give to budding Legacy players, Reid says it's important not to bite off more than you can chew. Legacy can be an intimidating format, especially to newer players who aren't familiar with its myriad card synergies and interactions, but learning to play one deck well is a great place to start.

Reid Duke – Jeskai Miracles

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