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This Month in Legacy (May 2015)

Hello there! Despite me wishing that I could have the fancy Burn article I promised last week ready for you guys, writing has unfortunately taken a backseat for the sake of University commitments. However I can’t let a month go past without a This Month in Legacy being written! So here it is!

This month, despite nothing as big as GP Kyoto happening, a big Legacy event did happen in the United States – the Worchester StarCityGames Open! And what an Open it was, with Noah Walker taking the prize and a variety of other sweet lists making it into great finishes. There’s also a bunch of Magic Online results we must peruse, as well as a variety of other paper tournaments around the world.

Today we have something a little different… A chart. I’ve collected data from both Magic Online Daily results (any 4-0 or 3-1 list is noted) and the Top 8s of paper tournaments around the world via tcdecks.net and mtgtop8.com.

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Miracles was still the top dog of the Legacy metagame this month, represented the most in both paper and online. Looking towards Delver decks, the two most popular versions were Grixis and BUG Delver – with Grixis showing heavy play online, while BUG has been the most represented Delver variant in paper tournaments. RUG followed with a comparatively meager showing and UWR Delver has been almost non-existent, largely replaced by its midrangier UWR Stoneblade cousin. Other midrange/control decks that have made strong showings are Shardless BUG and Grixis Control. In terms of combo, OmniTell was still the king, but ANT has had a strong resurgence this month, followed by Infect and Elves.

So how do we go about attacking this metagame?

Finding the Best Young Pyromancer Deck

Young Peezy has been making a lot of money this month, being a centerpiece of two of the highest placing archetypes of May – Grixis Delver and Grixis Control. He’s shown himself to be very much on the same level as his rare peers, with many people opting for the Pyromancer over cards such as Tarmogoyf due to his ability to at least usually leave behind a token after being removed.

Grixis Delver, as mentioned in my Introduction to Tempo article, initially began as an offshoot of UR Delver, replacing banned Treasure Cruises with fatties such as Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. It still maintained a creature core that was more on the aggressive end of the spectrum, utilizing Swiftspears as its one-drop of choice and cutting Wastelands. It was often more of an aggro deck rather than a true tempo deck.

Existing simultaneous to Grixis Delver was a deck often dubbed 4-colour Delver (colour-wise it’s more like Grixis splashing a light touch of green), popularized initially by Eric Rill. It was more true to the mantra of tempo, utilizing a package of Wastelands and Stifles, but altered its creature core to incorporate the then shiny-new Young Pyromancer and Deathrite Shaman. It had a small following behind it, but its showings paled in comparison to the BUG, RUG and UWR Delvers of the world.

But this month, we’ve finally seen these two versions of Grixis Delver converge into a powerful package that Noah Walker took to win the Worchester SCG Open.

Noah Walker's Grixis Delver

Creatures: (14)
Deathrite Shaman
Delver of Secrets
Gurmag Angler
True-Name Nemesis
Young Pyromancer
Lands: (18)
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
Wasteland

Non-Creature Spells: (28)
Brainstorm
Daze
Dig Through Time
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Pyroblast
Spell Pierce
Forked Bolt
Gitaxian Probe
Ponder

Sideboard: (15)
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pithing Needle
Ancient Grudge
Darkblast
Dismember
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Spell Pierce
Submerge
Vendilion Clique
Cabal Therapy
Forked Bolt

Noah’s list is interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, he has cut the Stifles that were previously a staple of 4-colour Delver, taking a nod from the Grixis Delvers of today, and instead has utilised a package of Delve spells. Present here are both Dig Through Time and Gurmag Angler, but no Tasigur, a consolation to the annoyance of Karakas and the power of the Zombie Fish against Tarmogoyf. However, he has kept the creature suite of Deathrite Shaman and Young Pyromancer, along with the package of Wastelands. The deck feels a little like BUG (without Hymns, however) with Bolts, which is right up my ally! I personally feel a little irksome with some of Noah’s choices, especially the main deck one-ofs, and Dig Through Time, despite being a rawly powerful card, is often unimpressive in these Delver strategies unless they’re searching for lethal Lightning Bolts. Here’s a Grixis Delver list that I’m so far pretty happy with:

Sean Brown's Grixis Delver

Creatures: (14)
Delver of Secrets
Deathrite Shaman
Young Pyromancer
Gurmag Angler

Non-Creature Spells: (29)
Brainstorm
Ponder
Gitaxian Probe
Daze
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Forked Bolt
Cabal Therapy
Murderous Cut
Lands: (17)
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Volcanic Island
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Wasteland

Sideboard: (15)
Spell Pierce
Submerge
Pyroblast
Cabal Therapy
Marsh Casualties
Ancient Grudge
Sulfuric Vortex
Abrupt Decay
Kolaghan’s Command
Grafdigger’s Cage
Nihil Spellbomb
Pithing Needle

I’ve been very greedy here with my mana base, shaving a land now that we have a full set of Probes and a full set of Deathrites. I could easily see going back up to eighteen and cutting the Murderous Cut.

Nonetheless, an important addition in this list is Cabal Therapy. It’s really one of the best cards you get from black in a deck that’s running a set of Pyromancers and Probes. Having another angle against combo, in addition to your counterpells, that’s also really powerful against a majority of other decks (especially against Stoneforge Mystic!) is something I don’t think you should be passing up if you’re in this color combination.

These Grixis Control decks certainly aren’t… Here’s one that made Top 8 of the Worchester SCG Open:

Paul Lynch's Grixis Control

Creatures: (10)
Deathrite Shaman
True-Name Nemesis
Young Pyromancer
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Lands: (18)
Island
Mountain
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island

Non-Creature Spells: (32)
Brainstorm
Counterspell
Dig Through Time
Fire
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Murderous Cut
Cabal Therapy
Gitaxian Probe
Ponder
Dack Fayden
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Sideboard: (15)
Grafdigger’s Cage
Null Rod
Pithing Needle
Izzet Staticaster
Ancient Grudge
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Umezawa’s Jitte
Vendilion Clique
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Cabal Therapy
Forked Bolt

These decks have been running rampant on Magic Online, and really are an impressive showcase on how far you can abuse Young Pyromancer. Young Pyromancer acts as an impressive end game threat that can spiral out of control once the deck has taken over in the midgame, thanks to its engine of cantrips, cantrips, cantrips and Dig Through Time, all while Therapies shred apart your hand and continue to grow the Elemental army. The deck can have trouble against hard control decks, however, such as Miracles, since it doesn’t have the speed of the Delver decks to get under Miracles and Pyromancer looks awful in the face of Terminus. It does have power against Stoneblade decks, however, thanks to the power of Cabal Therapy and Young Pyromancer laughing at their point removal.

But what if we traded our Cabal Therapies for a repeatable removal spell, that of course, triggered Pyromancer each time it was cast? And what if we added an engine card that could fuel our Digs for a long, long time? What if we became a RUG Pyromancer deck? In the far reaches of Hamburg, Daniel Heerens crafted such a deck, and it is a thing of beauty.

Daniel Heerens' RUG Control

Creatures: (8)
Snapcaster Mage
True-Name Nemesis
Young Pyromancer

Non-Creature Spells: (33)
Counterspell
Pyroblast
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Dig Through Time
Punishing Fire
Brainstorm
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Life from the Loam
Ponder
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Dack Fayden
Engineered Explosives
Lands: (19)
Academy Ruins
Tropical Island
Flooded Strand
Island
Grove of the Burnwillows
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island

Sideboard: (15)
Sulfur Elemental
Blood Moon
Pyroblast
Krosan Grip
Flusterstorm
Vendilion Clique
Pithing Needle
Tormod’s Crypt

This deck utilizes the same core of cards found in the Grixis Pyromancer list (cantrips + Pyromancer + Dig), except includes the powerful Punishing Fire engine, which is excellent as not only a repeatable source of removal, but also acts as an Elemental-pooping machine once a Pyromancer is on board. Dack Fayden is also nice, with this deck abusing him much better than the Grixis lists thanks to Dack not only feeding Digs, but also essentially ‘drawing’ cards thanks to Punishing Fire. Daniel was also acutely aware of his deck’s problems with Tarmogoyf, and incorporated a singleton Spell Snare as well as the Academy Ruins + Engineered Explosives combination. With Academy, Explosives becomes another nice card to pitch to Dack. If that wasn’t enough value for you, Life from the Loam is easy to dig to once Dack Fayden is rolling, and its Dredging fuels Dig Through Time! Loam itself lets Grove and Academy become pseudo-tutorable.

Although the Grixis Control lists have been dominating so far, this RUG list has so much value oozing from it that it may be able to fight for the title of best Pyromancer deck in Legacy!

Speaking of Life from the Loam… What Is This Fabled Lands Deck?

Another deck featuring Life from the Loam has also been making some notable appearances, with David Long, a long-time proponent of the deck, placing highly at SCG Worchester with RG Lands. Lands, for those unaware, is a combo-control deck centered around the engine of Life from the Loam and Exploration, essentially allowing you to advance your mana faster than your opponent, deny your opponent’s resources via either mana denial or other utility lands, cast Landcestral Recall, and then, once firmly in control, make an indestructible, flying 20/20, thanks to the combination of Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage, to finish your opponent off. Before the most recent change to the legend rule, however, Lands looked like this:

Eli Kassis' Lands

Lands: (36)
Academy Ruins
Bayou
Bojuka Bog
Forest
Ghost Quarter
Glacial Chasm
Karakas
Maze of Ith
Mishra’s Factory
Misty Rainforest
Riftstone Portal
Rishadan Port
Savannah
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Tolaria West
Tranquil Thicket
Tropical Island
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland

Non-Creature Spells: (24)
Engineered Explosives
Ensnaring Bridge
Mox Diamond
Zuran Orb
Life from the Loam
Worm Harvest
Exploration
Manabond
Intuition
Sideboard: (15)
Ancient Grudge
Chalice of the Void
Crucible of Worlds
Dark Confidant
Engineered Explosives
Ray of Revelation
Smokestack
Tormod’s Crypt

Finishing off people with a Mishra’s Factory was pretty sad times, with Lands players often going to time. But now that the deck has a faster kill with Dark Depths, the deck easily wins on time and has obtained percentages against combo decks, which were previously very hard to beat, thanks to the possibility of comboing faster than them. Long’s deck was one such streamlined, modernised version of Lands, with a few interesting pieces of technology in the sideboard:

David Long's Lands

Lands: (34)
Forest
Glacial Chasm
Grove of the Burnwillows
Maze of Ith
Misty Rainforest
Rishadan Port
Taiga
Thespian’s Stage
Tranquil Thicket
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Karakas
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Dark Depths

Non-Creature Spells: (26)
Mox Diamond
Exploration
Manabond
Crop Rotation
Punishing Fire
Gamble
Life from the Loam
Sideboard: (15)
Sphere of Resistance
Trinisphere
Choke
Krosan Grip
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Bojuka Bog
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Dark Depths

Boseiju, Who Shelters All, is a spicy one-of that seems impressive in a room full of Counterbalances, which is generally how Miracles beats Lands via shutting off Loam. Trinisphere is also a pretty reasonable choice with OmniTell seeing so much play, and despite it being the slowest of the Spheres to cast, putting it into play off Show and Tell should give the Lands player hopefully enough time to summon a Marit Lage.

More Ways to Dredge

Another surprising result this month is the uptick in the ol’ boogeyman Dredge, with it being the eleventh most played deck this month. And this is only counting ‘traditional’ Dredge – Manaless Dredge has been noted as its own data point. This is due to the decks, despite having similar cards, playing very differently, particularly in the developing stages of the game.

Traditional Dredge, to begin with, plays actual lands. Its rainbow land mana base of City of Brass, Mana Confluence and Gemstone Cavern, along with Cephalid Coliseum, allow the deck to cast discard outlets such as Faithless Looting and Careful Study, letting the Dredge deck bin a Dredger (ideally Golgari Grave-Troll) and then fill up its graveyard, abusing this with creatures such as Narcomoeba, Ichorid and ‘free’ spells such as Cabal Therapy. However, traditional Dredge can have much more explosive turns thanks to the synergy between Lion’s Eye Diamond and Faithless Looting. Once you’ve discarded your Dredgers via looting, you can then dump your whole hand with Lion’s Eye Diamond, float three red mana, flashback Looting again and Dredge a large proportion of your library. This should hopefully give the Dredge player enough resources to create a zombie army, Dread Return a Flame-Kin Zealot and smash the opponent for the win. Cards like Breakthrough also assist in these explosive turns. Here’s one such list:

Ryan Alacorn's Dredge

Creatures: (21)
Flame-Kin Zealot
Griselbrand
Ichorid
Golgari Grave-Troll
Golgari Thug
Narcomoeba
Stinkweed Imp

Non-Creature Spells: (26)
Dread Return
Breakthrough
Cabal Therapy
Careful Study
Faithless Looting
Bridge from Below
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Lands: (13)
Gemstone Mine
Cephalid Coliseum
City of Brass
Mana Confluence

Sideboard: (15)
Nature’s Claim
Chain of Vapor
Abrupt Decay
Lotus Petal
Firestorm
Faerie Macabre
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Ashen Rider
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Notice that this style of Dredge has the ability to run a package of anti-hate cards in the sideboard, such as a Abrupt Decay and Nature’s Claim, to ensure that cards such as Rest in Peace and Grafdigger’s Cage can be easily dealt with.

Manaless Dredge, on the other hand, like its name suggests, plays no lands. Its discard outlet is the essentially the discard phase, with it generally opting to go on the draw so that it can discard a Dredger on turn one. Although this seems cumbersome, what Manaless Dredge essentially does is prevent any possible interaction with the opponent. Faithless Looting and similar cards all have a problem in that they can be interacted with on the stack – by essentially never casting spells, Manaless Dredge gets around this problem. This makes the deck more susceptible to cards like Deathrite Shaman, however, since it can’t explosively Dredge to overwhelm it. Nonetheless, similar to once traditional Dredge gets the ball rolling, Manaless Dredge can then abuse Ichorid, Narcomoeba and Bridge from Below to grind out the opponent, or if the coast is clear, can Dread Return Balustrade Spy to mill its whole library and then kill via Flayer of the Hatebound. But how do you answer Rest in Peace and Grafdigger’s Cage post-sideboard when you can’t cast any spells? The solution lies in the blue staple of Legacy, as well as it’s poor-man’s substitute, Force of Will and Disrupting Shoal, respectively.

Giorgia Riviera's Manaless Dredge

Creatures: (45)
Flayer of the Hatebound
Balustrade Spy
Chancellor of the Annex
Golgari Grave-Troll
Golgari Thug
Ichorid
Narcomoeba
Nether Shadow
Phantasmagorian
Shambling Shell
Stinkweed Imp
Street Wraith

Non-Creature Spells: (15)
Cabal Therapy
Dread Return
Gitaxian Probe
Bridge from Below
Sideboard: (15)
Force of Will
Disrupting Shoal
Mindbreak Trap
Faerie Macabre
Serra Avatar

Not seen is this list is the ability to run Whirlpool Rider over Balustrade Spy, giving you a Dread Return target that usually allows you to mill over your whole library, while increasing the deck’s blue count. Nonetheless, Force of Will and Disrupting Shoal are excellent answers to hate cards if your blue count is high enough. Note that Georgia supplemented his blue cards with Mindbreak Traps, making his combo matchups excellent. Dredge players will know of the annoyance of having Narcomoebas in their opening hand – well now they have a use. They also conveniently pitch to Shoal to counter a Rest in Peace!

The Original Tempo Deck

Before all these Delvers and efficient creatures were printed, one of the top Daze and Force of Will decks was Merfolk. Utilising a package of excellent creatures such as Silvergill Adept and Cursecatcher, along with Merfolk lords and Aether Vial, Merfolk was once the premier tempo deck, relying on its synergy to overwhelm its opponent’s creatures, especially when islandwalk essentially equaled unblockability in the land of Legacy. Times have changed, however, and Delver and Tarmogoyf were printed, who didn’t need any synergy to become impressive beatsticks, and the deck fell from its previously sterling metagame prominence. Merfolk has still had a strong following, however, with Cavern of Souls and True-Name Nemesis being excellent additions and the deck performed very well this past month. The deck is also an excellent entry point into Legacy, with its Modern equivalent easily portable over once Force of Wills are obtained.

Here’s one such Merfolk list:

Massimo Ficcarelli's Merfolk

Creatures: (27)
Merrow Reejerey
Cursecatcher
Lord of Atlantis
Master of the Pearl Trident
Phantasmal Image
Silvergill Adept
True-Name Nemesis

Non-Creature Spells: (13)
Daze
Force of Will
Umezawa’s Jitte
Aether Vial
Lands: (20)
Snow-Covered Island
Cavern of Souls
Mutavault
11 Island

Sideboard: (15)
Submerge
Echoing Truth
Pithing Needle
Swan Song
Spell Pierce
Relic of Progenitus
Grafdigger’s Cage

Another now very dead tempo deck was a deck known as Meathooks. Similar to Merfolk, it utilized a package of lords and Aether Vial, as well as Daze and Force of Will. However the tribe of choice this time was everyone’s fan favorite… Slivers! The deck has seen a few flutterings of play on the SCG circuit, but one Magic Online player has crafted an excellent list, with nice, clean numbers that I can get behind.

ASMO's Meathooks

Creatures: (20)
Crystalline Sliver
Galerider Sliver
Muscle Sliver
Predatory Sliver
Sinew Sliver

Non-Creature Spells: (19)
Brainstorm
Daze
Force of Will
Swords to Plowshares
Aether Vial
Lands: (21)
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Mutavault
Savannah
Tropical Island
Tundra
Wasteland

Sideboard: (15)
Envelop
Ethersworn Canonist
Flusterstorm
Gaddock Teeg
Grafdigger’s Cage
Harmonic Sliver
Karakas
Path to Exile
Spell Pierce

So why choose Slivers over Merfolk? Because Crystalline Sliver is a pretty broken card.

Crystalline Sliver essentially makes your opponents unable to interact with you, especially once your Slivers fly via Galerider Sliver. I also like what the manabase looks like here – no Cavern of Souls or Sliver Hives or anything weird like that, but a nice fetch-dual manabase to maximise your Brainstorms.

She’s a Waterfall

Shardless BUG has largely overtaken Jund as the BGx midrange deck of choice, thanks to the deck’s access to the almighty Brainstorm, Ancestral Visions as well as, of course, everyone’s loveable artifact Agent.

Shardless already has a pretty abhorrent mana base, so why not just make it more abhorrent and add more value? Well, a few players both online and offline have added what they loved about Jund to Shardless. The result is these impressive BURG Cascade lists – a.k.a. Waterfall.

JAVERSONLAI's BURG Cascade

Creatures: (18)
Baleful Strix
Bloodbraid Elf
Courser of Kruphix
Deathrite Shaman
Shardless Agent
Tarmogoyf

Non-Creature Spells: (20)
Ancestral Vision
Hymn to Tourach
Abrupt Decay
Brainstorm
Force of Will
Punishing Fire
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana of the Veil
Lands: (22)
Badlands
Bayou
Grove of the Burnwillows
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Taiga
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Verdant Catacombs
Volcanic Island

Sideboard: (15)
Force of Will
Hymn to Tourach
Liliana of the Veil
Ancient Grudge
Duress
Feed the Clan
Golgari Charm
Grafdigger’s Cage
Nihil Spellbomb

Cascading a Bloodbraid Elf into a Shardless Agent should make most lovers of value weak at the knees, but the deck has a few other interesting trumps. Like aforementioned, the Grove + Punishing Fire combination is potent, especially when Young Pyromancer is one of the current top threats to deal with. The deck also gets the power of red sideboard cards, such as Ancient Grudge, and could even fit in some Pyroblasts if needed.

Conclusion

So this month, Miracles and OmniTell continued their reign on Legacy, with Young Pyromancer decks Grixis Control and Grixis Delver following behind, with Grixis Delver showing off an impressive win at SCG Open Worchester. BUG Delver has, however, remained the most popular Delver variant. In terms of other fair decks, UWR Stoneblade has been the Stoneforge Mystic deck of choice and Shardless BUG has remained popular, while, other than OmniTell, combo decks of choice have been Infect, Elves and Dredge. Per usual though, there are still a lot of other options in terms of deck selection and a lot of new brews waiting to be found.

Of course you can bring one such brew to Melbourne’s Legacy League IV! The League is starting up on June 15th, so get your deck lists in by then. The league is full proxy and you can win some sweet prizes, such as duals and fetches, as well as, of course, play some sweet, sweet Legacy.

Hope to see you there!

Sean

Bonus List

For those unaware, Force of Will, despite being so highly valued, is actually an uncommon that is part of a cycle of Alliances ‘pitch’ cards. The rest of the cycle sees not much play, with Pyrokinesis played in some Blood Moon Stompy decks and Contagion played in decks such as Manaless Dredge as a way to deal with permanent-based hate.

Never before have I seen the green card in the cycle get played…

Until now:

ADELORENZI's Mono-Green Infect

Creatures: (8)
Glistener Elf
Ichorclaw Myr

Non-Creature Spells: (34)
Gitaxian Probe
Berserk
Bounty of the Hunt
Crop Rotation
Groundswell
Invigorate
Mutagenic Growth
Vines of Vastwood
Sylvan Library
Lands: (18)
Cathedral of War
Inkmoth Nexus
13 Snow-Covered Forest

Sideboard: (15)
Choke
Dismember
Krosan Grip
Nature’s Claim
Null Rod
Tajuru Preserver
Tormod’s Crypt

Basically Infect on a budget, this deck has a lot of cool things going on though, with a full four Beserks having incredible synergy with not only Invigorate, but also the ‘free’ Bounty of the Hunt!

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