It's no secret that many tournament goers thrive for success and glory on their path to greatness, but what is it that we're really after? For some, it's the ability to say that they did it, that they got there! They won that PTQ and got to play on the Pro Tour at least once or that they got to hoist a trophy at the end of a long weekend of play at a SCG Tour® Open Weekend. Magic means a lot to people and in different ways for different reasons. There's no right answer to what someone's ambition should be or where it takes them; there's just the game and what we make of it.
This weekend is our annual trip to Worcester where, as usual, we'll be participating in a Legacy event that comes now twice a year to the SCG Tour. While we have little data aside from what comes from the Team Constructed Opens, the other place we can gather information from is Magic Online. The metagame online is a slight bit different than what we see on the SCG Tour®, but nonetheless it serves as a good platform to get some sense of what to expect for any given weekend.
If I were a betting man, I'd put everything I own on the fact that the two most registered cards for the weekend are going to be Deathrite Shaman and Brainstorm. While Legacy has its own comings and goings with the popularity of certain decks, some things stay the same. Caleb Scherer will be playing Storm, Andrew Jessup will be playing Elves, and THE Tannon Grace will be playing Grixis Delver. Is it because they genuinely think that those are the best decks in the format? Possibly, but the more likely scenario is it's because those are the decks they have the most experience with. Experience is the key that most stalwarts of the format harp on since a lot of the decks are on similar power level and being able to gain advantages over some people is less about the deck selection but more about playing the decks at 100%.
The key to the format is consistency. The blue deck manipulation spells like Brainstorm, Ponder, and Preordain do their best for the control decks and combo decks allowing them to have the most consistency and make a lot of the format seem repetitive in game play. While a lot of that might seem boring and stale since I'd guess about 70% of the field will register Brainstorm, there's a lot of room to abuse that fact.
What more can be said about Chalice of the Void? It's a card that can prey on all the decks trying to be the most efficient versions of themselves possible. There's a reason Mental Misstep was banned so quickly. Getting to Mental Misstep every spell that gets cast can really put a strain on the format defined by efficiency and makes it such that games can be over before a player gets to take a turn off the game. With both Ancient Tomb and Mox Diamond facilitating two mana on the first turn of the game, shutting off 30+ spells from an unsuspecting Delver player who didn't keep a hand with Force of Will can be quite the appeal.
This little combo was once a deadly and prominent force in the old Extended format alongside the Vampire Hexmage/ Dark Depths combo but serves a similar end game function here as not many decks pack artifact removal in full force. When online, each mana you can sink into this combo gains you a life and a 1/1 flying Thopter. For many of the fair decks in the format, that is far too much to overcome since mana denial usually doesn't work when there are Signets and Moxes involved.
Of all the decks in the format that don't utilize Brainstorm, this is near the top of my list as decks to consider in order to take a metagame gamble and hope for a lot of Chalice of the Voids cast on turn 1 for one. It proved to work well enough for Jake Farrar in Philadelphia and could make some waves in Worcester.
On the other end of the spectrum is a deck I hope to become very familiar with is this beauty brought to us by my BCW Teammate Tannon Grace.
Grixis Delver is as aggro control as Magic can come. The days of Wild Mongrel, Circular Logic, and U/G Madness have nothing on this deck since the threats here cost one mana and the protection and disruption spells cost zero! Delver of Secrets has been a prominent force in Legacy since its printing as the poster child of the archetype. Over the years the deck has had to adapt here and there and diversify its threats with cards like Young Pyromancer and True-Name Nemesis to help with the ever evolving format, but the objective of the deck remains the same – play an early threat, then Daze and Wasteland the heck out of the opponent so that your threat remains on the battlefield and solos your opponent.
While there are some strategies that can take advantage of the deck's overall strengths for being a very punishing deck such as the aforementioned Tezzeret deck above, there are few matchups that you sit down across from that you don't have at least a puncher's chance against given the right draws. This single fact that you have game against virtually any opponent has made it the deck to beat in the format and is why it's my weapon of choice this weekend. Much like in Modern, I've grown tired of sitting down with a "cute" deck for the sake of being different and not giving myself the best chance to win a tournament. The days of the old Brennan are over when it comes to non-Standard tournaments so get used to the new!
There are tons of options to consider when preparing for a Legacy tournament and it's very hard to prepare for everything, which is often why Force of Will is so widely used, because no matter what the case may be, you have an answer for it. A general rule for the format that I was taught by Tannon Grace is, "if the deck is named after a card, counter that card!" and it's a good rule to follow.
Overall I'm excited for the chance to flex my muscles in Magic and show that I can not only play Standard or Modern, but also Legacy! Harkening back to earlier about how people have their own goals and desires when it comes to achievements in Magic, my ambition is winning an Open in every format. If you've been keeping track as of late, I just have one more format to go! It's a big hurdle to jump because we don't get Legacy Opens as often as we used to and my familiarity of the format isn't exactly vast. None of that should hold me or anyone else back from achieving their goals; where there's a will there's a way and my will is strong!
Furthering inspection into recent online results in Legacy, we can find that some other unique decks can have a splash of success here and there.
- 4 Goblin Rabblemaster
- 4 Magus of the Moon
- 4 Simian Spirit Guide
- 2 Hazoret the Fervent
- 1 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
This is the ultimate prison deck for the format. This deck locks one-drops out with Chalice of the Void, it locks out spells by making all lands Mountains with Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon, and it stops people from attacking with Ensnaring Bridge. All the fun you could imagine having in Legacy, this deck tries to stop you from having.
Some decks simply can't handle one form of disruption this deck can produce let alone all. Accelerating into these disruptive elements with Chrome Mox and Simian Spirit Guide, as well as City of Traitors and Ancient Tomb can be fast enough for the format even though this deck doesn't start it's curve until turn 3 (outside of a turn 1 Chalice of the Void). Chandra, Torch of Defiance makes its mark in Legacy here as a removal spell and a source of card advantage to go toe to toe with decks running cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Brainstorm.
Honestly, the layers and layers of hate this deck can pack seamlessly across the entire format with just a few cards is remarkable. The fetchland for dual land manabase has people playing all the colors of the rainbow, with their decks easily being three or four colors. There are times and matchups where it doesn't matter whichever way you slice the moon because it's still bloody.
While I'm fairly set on my deck and will be sure to have Tannon Grace's approval before submitting my 75, I wouldn't be surprised by any deck that has shown it has the chops to be competitive to make it to the top tables this weekend. I am ready to see a Brainstorm in every match and a fetchland on every battlefield! Here's hoping I get my chance to leave my legacy behind by taking this event down and be the first person to win back to back opens twice and achieve my real dream of watching Cedric Philips eat a hat when I win three in a row! [ CEDitor's Note: Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.]