Hey everyone, remember this?
April 24, 2017 BANNED AND RESTRICTED ANNOUNCEMENT
Sensei's Divining Top is banned.
Gitaxian Probe is restricted.
Gush is restricted.
Sensei's Divining Top banned in Legacy? Yeah that was expected. Didn't matter too much since there weren't any Legacy tournaments following April 24th.
Vintage stuff? Probably didn't affect you.
Two days later, Felidar Guardian was emergency banned. Standard was in a chaotic scramble to find something good for the SCG Tour® in Atlanta only three days later. Pro Tour teams immediately shifted gears to the new Cat-less world. All eyes were on Standard. None were on Legacy.
The SCG Team Constructed Open is this weekend in Louisville. It's been a full six weeks since the last big Legacy tournament, the SCG Open in Worcester March 6, 2017. So how has Legacy changed?
Let's take a look at the winning decklist from Worcester, the last known monster of the format that has now been hit with the banhammer: Miracles.
Some devout Miracles players clinged onto the archetype with cards like Soothsaying or Telling Time, desperately trying to fill the void that the banning of Sensei's Divining Top left. It didn't take long for them to move on to a different deck, or to put the format down altogether, at least for awhile.
Good luck out there.
Miracles was a control deck that centered around making the best use of two cards: Terminus and Counterbalance. Sensei's Divining Top played well with both cards to make sure the top of your deck was an instant-speed super-Wrath of God or continued the Counterbalance lock. With only Brainstorm and Jace, the Mind Sculptor as efficient library manipulation, Miracles has gone the way of the Dodo.
Terminus punishes players for developing a battlefield full of creatures.
- 1 Birchlore Rangers
- 2 Craterhoof Behemoth
- 4 Deathrite Shaman
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Heritage Druid
- 1 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Nettle Sentinel
- 4 Quirion Ranger
- 1 Reclamation Sage
- 4 Wirewood Symbiote
- 2 Dryad Arbor
Andrew Jessup marched through the swiss rounds of Worcester with his trusty Elves deck before losing to eventual champion Eli Kassis on Miracles.
Elves aims to quickly create a battlefield of value that gets out of control with Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel, generating enough mana to dump out your hand with Wirewood Symbiote and Elvish Visionary bringing a stream of cards. Craterhoof Behemoth is rarely non-lethal and can be found when the time is ready with Green Sun's Zenith or Natural Order.
Elves plays fine against counterspells and good against other creature decks. It didn't play well against a one-mana sweeper like Terminus. With countermagic to halt the big plays and a reset button, Miracles was always a deck that Elves wanted to avoid. Without Miracles, Elves has gotten a lot better.
- 3 Phyrexian Revoker
- 4 Flickerwisp
- 1 Mirran Crusader
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 1 Orzhov Pontiff
- 1 Palace Jailer
- 2 Recruiter of the Guard
- 1 Sanctum Prelate
- 1 Serra Avenger
- 4 Stoneforge Mystic
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Without Brainstorm or counterspells you need to be doing something really good to compete with the power level of Legacy. Death and Taxes strangles the fragile manabases of Legacy players with Wasteland, Rishadan Port, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben while plopping down annoying threats for free with Aether Vial.
Death and Taxes always did have to eventually win with creatures, and their clock wasn't particularly fast, so the Miracles player usually had time find the Terminus. Cards like Mother of Runes and Umezawa's Jitte didn't do much against the control deck either.
With Counterbalance gone, decks that aim to cast a bunch of cheap mana spells (often in one turn) are looking better.
Storm was considered one of the best decks in Legacy before the banning. Now it may just be the best deck period. Storm's reliance on a critical mass of zero, one, and two mana spells was really hampered by Counterbalance on basically any of those numbers, let alone with a Sensei's Divining Top threatening all three.
Emma Handy put down U/R Delver for a moment to pilot perhaps the most "all-in" deck that Legacy has to offer: Belcher.
Belcher asks one question: Do you have the Force of Will? It's designed to put opponents under the gun with turn 1 regularity. Sometimes it's making twelves Goblin tokens and hoping it's enough (it usually is).
Belcher can rebuild from a single counterspell. In the case of Empty the Warrens, the opponent needs to pick the right spot to halt mana production before facing a bunch of Storm copies. The nail in the coffin was always Counterbalance as a follow up. Now even if the "Force of Will question" is answered, the opponent needs to actually kill the Belcher player before enough draw steps are naturally taken to reassemble another burst.
It may seem weird to put Burn in the same category as Storm and Belcher. At its core, Burn is trying to assemble a number of spells that add up to twenty damage, minus various fetching and Gitaxian Probes and whatnot.
With the rise of Four-Color "good stuff" decks now is a good time for Price of Progress.
Four Eidolon of the Great Revel and another four Pyrostatic Pillar really puts the squeeze on other spell-dense decks. Those sideboard Searing Blazes nuke any creature-dependent strategy, which are sure to rise due to the lack of Terminus.
The popularity of Sneak and Show rises and falls depending on how good Show and Tell on turn 2 is (and if it resolves at all). If people are packing a ton of Karakas or there are other big creature decks like Reanimator, then Show and Tell doesn't look so good. If they're showing up with True-Name Nemesis and Nettle Sentinel, then it is.
I like Sneak and Show in this newer Legacy format. It's certainly proactive and has enough countermagic to both protect its combo and defend itself against whatever the opponent might bring.
Lands has always gone toe-to-toe against Miracles. Generally, both players had the tools to fight each other, especially post-sideboard, and the winner was often the more experienced player. Great Lands players say they beat Miracles and vice versa.
Without the tough "50/50" matchup looming and with creature decks getting breathing room without Terminus, Lands looks like it's in good shape to roast Delver of Secrets and Heritage Druid with Punishing Fire. Storm and friends will be a challenge as usual, and sideboard Sphere of Resistances will really put in some work, but overall I think the format is shifting for the better for Lands.
Delver decks will be pretty popular moving forward. They've always been considered to be in the tier one camp of Legacy decks, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. They have a suite of countermagic, removal, other disruption like discard and/or Wasteland, and a fast clock. That's the perfect mix to have a chance against anything in a format as deep as Legacy.
Is Infect Any Good?
As much as it pains me to say, Infect got hurt by the banning of Sensei's Divining Top nearly as much as Miracles did. Why? Because Infect had a good matchup versus Miracles.
Infect doesn't play well against decks with a pile of removal like the new Delver decks. It's not so hot against Lands either, with Punishing Fire, Maze of Ith, and Glacial Chasm. With Storm being the new deck to beat, things are looking rough. Infect players don't want to face Storm and Storm players don't want to face Infect. Both want to be the one doing fast combo things with little interaction. Tasting our own medicine is hard to swallow.
If Sneak and Show picks up in a big way (likely in response to Elves and Delver), then Infect will be pretty good. Until then I'm not so sure. Just gotta let the format simmer awhile and see how it shakes out.
Hope Yet For Miracles?
This is one of Magic Online's best deckbuilders. He built a Mono-Black Death Cloud Modern deck that I almost played over 8-Rack last year. He also did work on the Mono-Black Legacy Smallpox deck that I sometimes play as a guilty pleasure. If anyone can breathe life into a beaten Miracles deck, it's him.
Moving away from Counterbalance altogether is a great first step. After all, while Miracles got its name from the signature mechanic, it was really a control deck with a CounterTop lock. This build is a Jeskai Control deck too with just enough non-embarrassing ways to fiddle with the top card of your library to get away with some Terminus and an Entreat the Angels.
While there looks to be a glimmer of hope left for Miracles, this is still the only evidence I've seen of its survival. Perhaps being an abandoned deck has Miracles off people's radars...or maybe Ozman's build was surprising enough to have people guessing. In any case, I see the future of Miracles as being "a deck" in Legacy. Not "the" deck.
I still think people that have been playing their non-Miracles Legacy deck for forever will do well in the new format.
I didn't address decks with Leovold, Emissary of Trest as they were already built to go long against Miracles and vary so much that they're hard to cover.
These are the top decks in Legacy (in my humble opinion) moving forward with the post-banning of Sensei's Divining Top.
4. Death and Taxes
2. Grixis Delver
Fewer unintentional draws and faster turnover on rounds.
That's something we can all look forward to.