The Vastness and Draw of Legacy

Posted in Event Coverage on November 7, 2015

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

When players approach Standard, the story of multiple Grand Prix often becomes about what deck will rise to the top with each week. With a smaller card pool, players will make metagame calls, tweak main decks or adjust sideboard tech, and make minor adjustments as the metagame shifts each week in order to gain the upper hand in the next weekend.

Legacy is not like that at all.

Comprised of some of Magic's most powerful cards from 1993 until today, Legacy Constructed is a format where there are a multitude of deck options that all fall within some distinct categories—go aggressive, control the pace of play and win late, or assemble a combo and win quickly—that all tackle their category's game plan through different ways.

The result is a format showcasing the greatest hits of Magic's 22 year history where players are likely to find a deck, fall in love with it, and stick with it for as long as they want. It is a format that strongly associates a player with a distinct deck. Players learn a deck, play with it consistently over many years, and become so comfortable with their deck choice that they will continue to play it at nearly every event. It is a format where, no matter how familiar or unfamiliar a person is with the format, no matter what kind of strategy they like, there is a deck out there that someone will fall in love with, cherish, and stick with over the course of many years. It is also a format with tons of possibilities,and provides a ground where players relatively new to the format can pick up a deck and prepare.


Want a few examples of both camps? Let's take a look at some of this weekend's competitors.


Joe Lossett, Miracles Master

Joe Lossett has built quite a reputation as a Miracles player. Known for his success with the archetype on the StarCityGames.com Open Series circuit, the Miracle aficionado continues to champion the deck as not only one of the more powerful options in the room, but also because of his long time familiarity with the deck's functionality.

"My version is built to have a huge advantage in the mirror," Lossett explained. He noted that the card choices to give him a mirror match advantage does sacrifice some strength against the various Delver of Secrets decks, but given the deck's performance this year, it is a strategy that may pay off very well for him.

Lossett hasn't been shy about his choice of deck either. As a regular content producer and Twitch partner as "Oarsman79" on the streaming website, Lossett regularly streams on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and occasionally on other weeknights. "I usually play Legacy," he said. "I play Miracles around three quarters of the time."

Joe Lossett – Miracles


Paul Cheon, Emptying the Cheons this weekend.

Also one to willingly stream his deck choice in preparation for this weekend, Paul "HAUMPH" Cheon has been an active participant on Magic Online as he tests in front of an audience of fans on Twitch. His deck choice for the weekend, Storm (also known as "ANT", an acronym for "Ad Nauseam Tendrils"), gives Paul more than a few opportunities to Empty the Cheons in each of his rounds…or more realistically, end things with one big Tendrils of Agony.

That said, Cheon represents the other side of the Legacy spectrum compared to Joe Lossett.

"I hadn't played Legacy since Worlds 2008," Cheon admitted. For the team world champion, it was not a format that has been his focus until he was sure that he was competing in this Grand Prix. With two weeks to prepare, Cheon reached out to his friends for deck recommendations. Eric Froehlich came back to him with the suggestion of a Storm deck.

"I knew I wanted to play a deck with Brainstorm," Cheon said, before explaining his rationale for his ultimate choice. While Cheon admits to being more of a control player, his lack of familiarity with Legacy made him concerned about piloting the format's go-to control deck, Miracles. That said, Cheon's first few matches with Storm did not go well, as he stumbled through games on his Twitch broadcasts. It began to earn friendly ribbing from his buddies, which resulted in Cheon becoming even more determined to learn Storm.

"Everyone who told me I was bad with the deck and that I shouldn't play it made me want to play the deck even more," Cheon said. Sure enough, Cheon continued to learn the ins and outs of Storm, and eventually was sold on the power level of the strategy as his deck of choice. "I've won games where my opponent played a turn 1 Thoughtseize and a turn 2 Hymn to Tourach, and then I still won on turn 3."

Paul Cheon – Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT)


Kai Sawatari, Grand Prix Kyoto 2015 semifinalist, is assembling big storms again this weekend.

Another player who is casting some storm spells—albeit without the Ad Nauseam—is Kai Sawatari from Japan. Unlike Cheon, Sawatari has been playing cheap spells and storm effects for a while. In fact, he played Storm to a Top 4 finish at Grand Prix Kyoto 2015, and also piloted the same general archetype to a 17th place finish. Sawatari is a huge fan of Legacy and has been making the trek to every Legacy Grand Prix he can go to, making new friends and playing the cards he enjoys the most in different continents.

However, he has chosen instead to shift his strategy a bit here at Seattle-Tacoma.

"Ad Nauseam is a weird card," Sawatari explains. "Sometimes your life total matters a lot. For this Grand Prix, it's not needed. I was observing the decks in the Trials yesterday and saw a lot of Delver decks, Miracles, and even Shardless Sultai."

As Legacy has brought Sawatari to two different continents, including his second visit to the United States, what was the draw for him to this format?

"It's a mixture of Brainstorm and cheap spells," Sawatari said. "Legacy is the 0-mana and 1-mana format, and I love casting cheap spells." In case you're wondering how strongly Sawatari feels about avoiding spells that are deemed too expensive, he actually eliminated Shardless Sultai as a deck to play since Shardless Agent costs three mana.

Against those decks, Ad Nauseam becomes less impressive as your life total is under pressure. The metagame that Sawatari observed in the Trials convinced him to switch to a second Tendrils of Agony and Past in Flames as his primary method of completing his combo.

Kai Sawatari – Storm


Jack Bjorge represents one of the many local players who learned Legacy when the Grand Prix was coming to their home region.

And finally, some players make the dive into Legacy just to try something new when it becomes local. That was the case for local player Jack Bjorge, who picked up Merfolk as his deck of choice when he started learning Legacy. "I enjoy tribal decks," he said with regards to the reasoning behind his deck choice. Turns out, Legacy is a format that has some powerful tribal options too, as Merfolk, Elves, and even Goblins in days long past have been deck staples in the Legacy metagame.

Sadly, Bjorge's deck was, in fact, holding no Hedron Crabs.

Jack Bjorge – Merfolk

This is just four players, and a bit of their stories, among the more than 2,000 players who are here at Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma this weekend. We'll see many more players, along with their decks, throughout the weekend.

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