Grand Prix New Jersey is only days away, which doesn't leave much time for deck builders, brewers, and players to put the finishing touches on their Eternal masterpieces. The format appears to be very, very dominated by Delver strategies and their new best friend:
I'm pretty sure that nearly everybody already knows the joke by now: blue cards are better and far more played than anything else in Legacy.
True, there are some other non-blue decks that are good enough that I wouldn't shoot somebody down for saying they are on the same power level as “insert generic deck playing blue cards.” Elves, for instance, comes to mind as the best example of a deck that succeeds at being good despite greatly handicapping itself by not playing blue cards.
The reason that Elves is good despite not using blue spells is that Gaea's Cradle is one of the most powerful cards that is legal in the format, as it makes a ton of mana at very little investment cost.
“Gaea's Cradle 'feels' like a blue card, a.k.a. it is a broken card.”
Is it possible to play Legacy and not play a bunch of blue cards? Absolutely! There are plenty of options out there and it's a big format full of lots of stuff to do. But would I advise people to assume that a very high percentage of their opponents will be playing various blue decks at the Grand Prix?
I think it is so much easier to have a fantastic deck by just playing a blue deck than it is to come up with something else that is trying to beat blue decks. The problem with hate decks is that they are often underpowered and often not even that great at beating the decks that they are trying to hate out. For instance, if a Delver deck just has a Delver and Dazes and Force of Wills you on the first two turns, how good is your hate deck now?
In today's article I'm going to look at the cards that I think are actually really good at beating up on various blue decks that have perched themselves atop the Tier 1 heap in Legacy in hopes that some of the brewers out there might take some of these ideas and run with them.
My assumption based upon what I've been looking at for the past two months is that a player would be better prepared for this event assuming that they will be playing against only blue decks than worrying about testing and having strong plans for anything that isn't a known blue deck.
Here is what I think the metagame for this weekend looks like:
Fair Blue Decks
- U/R Delver
- Jeskai Delver
- Temur Delver
- Sultai Delver
- Esper Stoneblade
- Jeskai Stoneblade
- U/W Stoneblade
Unfair Blue Decks
- Sneak and Show
- Death and Taxes
Treasure Cruise existing in Legacy really changes a lot, because before Cruise was a thing, decks that were primarily Black could grind card advantage and essentially run the blue decks out of cards. Since the blue decks play a lot of cantrips, but not a lot of actual card advantage spells, running a blue deck down on resources quickly was one way to win a game.
Treasure Cruise changes this dynamic because it is really good at drawing a player out of these kinds of situations. As a result, while I think that Treasure Cruise makes blue decks better, I also think it is relatively fair to say that it also makes black decks worse because discard becomes a much less effective way to win games.
There are certain assumptions that I think we as players and deck tuners can make about the metagame and based on those assumptions there are some specific cards that I think are really well positioned to overachieve in the Legacy metagame.
A card that is not in the spirit of letting opponents draw extra cards.
I wrote a little bit about Legacy BW Death and Taxes earlier in the year right after the printing of Spirit of the Labyrinth.
Here is my list from back then:
- 4 Dark Confidant
- 4 Deathrite Shaman
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 2 Serra Avenger
- 4 Stoneforge Mystic
- 3 Spirit of the Labyrinth
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Blue decks are great and the #1 reason for why is that they get to see a lot of cards every game. Spirit of the Labyrinth is really great at taking that angle away from opposing decks hoping to capitalize on the power of Treasure Cruise, Brainstorm, and Ponder. One thing that I've noticed lately is that Death and Taxes decks haven't been performing very well overall. However, I think that a more hateful version of the deck geared toward attacking the card drawing aspect of blue decks could be successful.
At the Legacy Championship at Eternal Weekend I had the great displeasure of playing against a Jund deck with maindeck Chains of Mephistopheles with my Temur Delver deck.
It was not fun.
Jund seems like a fantastic home for a card like Chains of Mephistopheles, but it also seems pretty awesome in Death and Taxes too. I'm honestly leaning pretty heavily toward playing a B/W Taxes deck at the Grand Prix and one of the determining factors for whether or not I ultimately play the deck may be whether or not I can find a few copies of this expensive Legends rare to actually play with. The only thing that I don't find to be absolutely amazing about this rare Legends card is the price tag!
If you think about it, the card is absolutely amazing against blue decks. It's basically a two-mana, proactive card that counters every Treasure Cruise, Brainstorm, and Ponder that a blue mage casts for the rest of the game!
XX = 1 = Sadness.
Chalice of the Void is another one of those cards that I think is just far more powerful in this current format than anything else. When you're playing a matchup, there are certain cards that are really important and really matter a lot and I think that Chalice of the Void is one of those cards.
It's a lot like Chains of Mephistopheles in the sense that it is one card that cost two mana that stops a bunch of important cards an opponent might play throughout the game. The biggest difference is that Chalice stops things other than card draw spells.
There are a lot of decks that keep having nice finishes that don't really look like great decks to me but have a bunch of ways to slam turn one Chalice of the Void on one into play on the first turn via Chrome Mox, Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, or Simian Spirit Guide. While I don't always think that everything about these decks is great, it's undeniable how powerful and potentially game-ending a Chalice of the Void on one can be.
A lot of people know about this card, but this little nod is for those who haven't heard about it. A friend of mine and longtime Elves player, Jon Johnson, has been talking about this technology for literally a year and a half, and it is fantastic especially with the way the metagame has unfolded with U/R Delver being one of the overall best decks in the format.
This random Ice Age bulk rare shuts down U/R Delver decks cold. In fact, it's pretty comical how weird and perfect this card is 20+ years later at very specifically hosing U/R Delver decks.
First of all, it makes it so that they can't hit you with their Delvers because they don't untap. Second, Instant and Sorcery Spells can't deal damage which means not only can they not burn an Elves player out but also they cannot use Lightning Bolts or Pyroclasm effects like Rough/Tumble to eliminate the elves in play.
As for the cumulative upkeep? It's pretty easy for the deck with Gaea's Cradle where every card is a creature that taps for mana to pay for it.
You know a format is healthy when half of the decks in the Top 8 maindeck Pyroblast…
Pyroblast is really popular right now and it seems like basically every blue deck that makes Red mana is maindecking some number of this card. I guess that it isn't really an underrated card in Legacy but I do think it's worth saying that people who are having success with Delver and Miracle style decks tend to be maindecking REB-style hate cards for other blue decks.
I kind of take this as a sign that if there is a super hateful non-blue deck that now is probably a good time to break it out. If we've truly arrived at a place in the world where people are maindecking multiple Pyroblasts then maybe it's time to just play a Spirit of the Labyrinth or Chalice of the Void deck. Heck, you get to make your opponents look like dummies for playing with maindeck sideboard cards.
If people are Top 8-ing large tournaments in multiples with maindeck Pyroblasts, I don't think it is unreasonable to build one's deck from the perspective of basically just trying to beat blue decks as hard as possible.
Say 'no' to demons and Eldrazi.
Yet another high-impact awesome Legacy card from the latest Commander 2014 decks. The card basically stops a bunch of really bad things from happening to W/x hatebear decks. Most importantly, it stops Show and Tell and Sneak Attack from putting gigantic game ending monsters onto the battlefield.
The card actually has more applications than just that. For instance, it is a card that can also stop:
From an Elves opponent...
Against Death and Taxes...
Although it is a non-bo with Aether Vial, I'm still fairly certain that it is so good against the decks I want it against that I'm still willing to play it in the sideboard of a Death and Taxes deck even though it shuts off my own Aether Vials!
“Let what we have buried stay buried forever.”
It shouldn't be too surprising that a format where delving is one of the most powerful things that completely eliminating somebody's graveyard might be useful. There are only a few zones in Magic:
- Cards in library
- Cards in hand
- Cards in play
- Cards in exile
- Cards in graveyard.
Rest in Peace eliminates player's entire ability to utilize one of those entire zones for just a two mana, and some decks cannot really function without using their graveyard as a resource.
Goyf and Goose may have taken a little bit of a backseat to U/R Delver and Young Pyromancer but they still get played. The big key is that it stops delve and shuts off Snapcaster Mage.
It's kind of interesting that I wanted to write an article about the cards that I thought were good against the blue decks in Legacy and that so many of the cards that seem to be good against blue decks are actually white cards. Before I started working on this article a couple of days ago I felt fairly committed to playing Sneak and Show at the Grand Prix, but now that I've put in some time thinking about cards that I think are actually really good against the decks that appear to be doing well, I've kind of come full circle back to wanting to play with black and white cards.
Perhaps I just need to find a way to splash red in my W/B Death and Taxes list so I can play a couple of maindeck Pyroblasts. I'm only half joking, but it doesn't actually sound like that terrible of an idea. Desperate times call for desperate measures, after all.
No matter what happens, I'm really looking forward to playing in this upcoming Grand Prix. Legacy really lends itself well to a long tournament format where one gets to play between 10 and 15 rounds with his or her deck. I'm looking forward to dusting off my Moms and Ports!