How To Choose And Build A Magic: The Gathering Legacy Deck, Plus Bonus Tournament Report
When selecting a deck to play there are two things that I ultimately will take into account.
The first is my own play style. For Sealed I tend to make aggressive decks. Drafts will see me taking fixing, ramp and fatties. Modern tends to be experimental Johnny decks that have a combo-istic synergy. Vintage sees me playing Blue decks (though that’s a little more due to card availability than anything else). In Legacy I like to take Control.
The second is the expected metagame. I tend to play Legacy in two places. My local game store is Game On in Cheltenham which is supplemented by the Geek Knight group in Gloucester as the two groups share a lot of common players. There tend to be a lot of glass cannon Combo decks or aggressive creature strategies in one or two colours. I spent a long time trying to play silly decks, before finally taking things seriously and playing a real deck.
I knew I would want access to [card]Force of Will[/card] and other cheap countermagic for the Combo decks but at the same time be able to keep creatures off the board. [card]Wasteland[/card] was a poor card in this metagame. Most decks were able to just ignore it due to high number of basic lands that most decks were running for budgetary reasons. The best fit for this therefore seemed to be Miracles, which I was pretty close to be able to build, and did so and have been running it successfully since.
The other place I play Legacy is Manaleak’s monthly Legacy tournaments and the quarterly Win-a-Duals. I tried taking Miracles a few times but couldn’t see the same sort of results as I did in my local groups. I needed something to grind games out in a resource battle. There were more Delver decks, more Midrangey decks, fewer pure Combo decks and a lot more other Control decks.
As far as win conditions go, I felt that I wanted to play a [card]Dark Depths[/card] deck.
As for what shell to put it in? That caused me some consternation. It definitely wouldn’t be a Turbo Depths shell, that’s a little too much of a Combo deck for my tastes. Jund Depths never quite felt where I wanted to be when I tested it, as powerful as [card]Punishing Fire[/card]/[card]Grove of the Burnwillows[/card] is a card I just couldn’t get comfortable with it.
A basic Lands shell just seemed a little bit too full of dead cards to me. Cards like [card]Exploration[/card] and [card]Manabond[/card] just felt very bad in multiples and the deck seemed to be pulling in too many different directions. I just couldn’t find a shell I liked for the deck.
Then I looked at one of my friend’s [card]Pox[/card] deck and thought “how would [card]Dark Depths[/card] fit into that?” I tried to go Mono-Black to begin with, running a lot of land destruction and just waiting to incidentally draw the combo, but that seemed too slow with very few ways to get ahead on cards. I then looked at a Green splash and never looked back.
Green gives us:
[deck]Life from the Loam
[card]Life from the Loam[/card] – This is our draw engine and enables us to find a lot of our one-ofs and fast, and also lets us develop our mana with a brutal efficiency by recurring fetchlands, [card]Wasteland[/card]s and previously fizzled combo pieces.
[card]Sylvan Library[/card] – This is some top notch card selection. It lets us filter out the bad stuff, works well with fetchlands, gives a boost of extra cards if we need them. Also it goes absolutely bonkers if you have a [card]Life from the Loam[/card] in your graveyard as you can replace one of the extra draws with Dredge and not have to put a card back. Dredge is weird.
[card]Crop Rotation[/card] – This not only helps us find combo pieces but also finds some of the utility lands like [card]Wasteland[/card], [card]The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/card], [card]Karakas[/card], [card]Maze of Ith[/card] and [card]Glacial Chasm[/card] out of the sideboard for the right card at the right time.
This may seem a little odd for me to say but Black’s removal isn’t actually very good. Black is the best colour for keeping creatures under control, but really sucks against pretty much any other form of permanent. Green gives us access to [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], [card]Maelstrom Pulse[/card], [card]Pernicious Deed[/card] and [card]Golgari Charm[/card] to name a few, all of which are good calls in the right metagame.
This led me to build the following deck to take to the Manaleak’s Win-a-Dual on the 1st March:
Loam Pox, a Legacy Deck by Christopher Cooper
3 Liliana of the Veil
3 Life from the Loam
4 Hymn to Tourach
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Pernicious Deed
2 Crop Rotation
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Innocent Blood
1 Raven’s Crime
1 Sylvan Library
2 Dark Depths
2 Thespian’s Stage
1 Barren Moor
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
3 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Maze of Ith
2 Cabal Pit
1 Bojuka Bog
3 Verdant Catacombs
1 Barren Moor
[deck]3 Leyline of the Void
3 Mindbreak Trap
1 Golgari Charm
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Pithing Needle
1 Glacial Chasm
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Engineered Plague[/deck]
With 32 players we would have 5 rounds with prizes going to the Top 8 players. With so many players we were right at the edge of going into an extra round so there would be little margin for error. It would be highly likely that multiple X-2s would miss out.
Legacy Tournament Report
I was paired against Lewis Marshall with Dredge. He recognised me from a previous tournament when I blew him out with a game 1 turn 0 [card]Leyline of the Void[/card] from a [card]Serra’s Sanctum[/card]-based Control deck (didn’t work, except from that match) and joked about it again. I “accidentally” dropped a sideboard Leyline as I took out my deck and watched his eyes widen with horror as he realised what it was.
Game one I took with a well-timed [card]Crop Rotation[/card] for a card I had considered taking out of the deck. I had managed to draw into [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] after a long game where [card]Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/card] had very much stunted Lewis’ development. I had waited until the last possible moment to pull the trigger on going for [card]Dark Depths[/card] which I always do, just in case. This time it definitely paid off as I was able to fetch [card]Bojuka Bog[/card] in response to [card]Dread Return[/card] on lethal [card]Flayer of the Hatebound[/card], causing my opponent to scoop.
Game two was very different as Dredge did its thing despite turn 0 Leyline and there was nothing I could do about it.
The third game was a long grindy game again with timely [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] buying time before I set up a [card]Bojuka Bog[/card] / [card]Wasteland[/card] / [card]Life from the Loam[/card] lock on Lewis to eventually close out the game. Oh, and I had the Leyline again. I always have the Leyline.
The second round saw me paired against Legacy Breakfast’s Stu Taylor on Infect, and you can hear Stu’s take on the match on last week’s podcast. It’s an archetype that has recently [card]Become Immense[/card] thanks to some new printings and innovations, but I’ve had little experience in matchups against it. The first game saw an eventual concession after all of Stu’s [card]Tropical Island[/card]s ended up in the bin thanks to a combination of [card]Smallpox[/card] and [card]Wasteland[/card]. However, the biggest point of discussion for me was my mulligan decision.
I had a hand that in almost any match up I would keep and likely win the game in very short order. It was:
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Liliana of the Veil[/deck]
I knew that Stu was likely on Infect, because I had listened to the podcast that week and had seen him playing with it before the tournament. I felt that there was too little interaction as even on the play I could be as good as dead before I did anything meaningful. My after-mulligan hand had [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card], [card]Duress[/card] and some lands, and I felt that it was eventually a justified mulligan. However, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments.
Stu’s [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] came late into game two taking out my [card]Dark Depths[/card] and saw me in a lot of trouble. I now had no win conditions. Despite [card]Engineered Plague[/card] turning off his copies of [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] and a whole gamut of removal, Stu was just about able to flood the board with enough threats to push through enough damage of both infect and regular damage to keep me off some of my outs and eventually infect me to death. The ironies of playing [card]Pox[/card]. However, with time ticking on and his deck being faster than mine I had decided not to scoop and just to stabilise and stall the board out with removal, a plan that ultimately backfired. With all of this grind there wasn’t enough time for a proper game threem so we drew our opening sevens and shook hands soon thereafter.
The third round saw me paired against the rather unconventional Red deck of Steve Barton running maindeck [card]Ankh of Mishra[/card]s, a card that I did not want to come up against. A slowish start by me coupled with all the burn from Steve did the trick.
The second game had a little more give to it. An early [card]Ankh of Mishra[/card] threatened to cause me a lot of pain, and double [card]Rift Bolt[/card] on suspend looked rather ominous. A topdecked [card]Crop Rotation[/card] for [card]Glacial Chasm[/card] made them look rather silly as the Chasm bought me 10 points of life within the next turn due to the missed Ankh trigger and double Bolts. Nevertheless, I was never able to find the [card]Life from the Loam[/card] I needed to help me stabilise and had to get rid of the Chasm whereupon Steve burned me out.
At this point I was on 1-1-1 and on the verge of not being able to Top 8. A few more wins should see me OK though, and I still felt confident. Right up until I saw a basic [card]Mountain[/card] appear on my opponent Vinnie’s side of the table at the start of the next round. Burn again.
This time I was able to do substantially better against a more creature based deck, with early copies of [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] in both games backed up by [card]Smallpox[/card]. A quick Marit Lage saw me take game one, and [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] helped me get a lock on in game two. [card]Ensnaring Bridge[/card] might have proved problematic until I found an [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], but I didn’t pull the trigger on it straight away. Instead I chose to ultimate my Liliana and separate his permanents as [card]Ensnaring Bridge[/card] in one pile and everything else in the other. Needless to say he chose the Bridge as being his best chance of winning and I Decayed it Abruptly before swinging for the win next turn.
So I was down to a win and in for the final round. I got paired down against an Esper Deathblade deck piloted by Dan Partridge. I got off to a bad start as threats and countermagic stymied my ability to do anything in a timely fashion and [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] finished me off before I could stabilise.
Another [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] in the second game made things look bad for me but I was able to get rid of it before a quick [card]Crop Rotation[/card] got in under his counters and my 20/20 got there.
The third game was a lot more grindy with it coming down to a topdeck war when I managed to land [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]. Both of us flooded out a little with me being able to assemble my combo but was stopped from going off by the presence of [card]Wasteland[/card] on Dan’s side of the table. Eventually I hit a second [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] and enough lands that I could would be able to go off safely but I wanted to make sure. I ticked Liliana up to 6 and for the second time in two matches managed to get her to ultimate.
I chose piles of [card]Wasteland[/card] and everything else. Dan picked the Wasteland, leaving himself hellbent with no coloured sources. This meant that it was safe for me to activate one of my [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card]s, then when he went to [card]Wasteland[/card] my [card]Dark Depths[/card] I was able to respond by activating the second [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] and combo off over the top of it. For the second round in a row I got the win with my opponent at no permanents and no cards in hand.
I took my time to get my things together, after such an involved and intense game I was a little drained but relieved to have made Top 8. I walked up to the front desk to see who else had made the cut and saw myself in ninth place. Ninth at 3-1-1. I was absolutely gutted to have come so close and missed out with such a good record, but them’s the beats.
On the plus side, there was one real feel good story from the tournament. One of my local group, Josh Gordon, was playing in his first ever Legacy tournament with an Affinity deck and managed to finish top of the standings and made it to the Top 4 before choosing to split the prize pool. Well done, mate, that was fantastic for a first time.
So overall, how would I evaluate my performance at the tournament? Well, I think that the biggest thing to take from it is the draw against Infect. There were times when both of us could have done with speeding up our play, especially myself knowing that I am ultimately playing a slow deck. I probably should have conceded game two a lot sooner as I like my chances in this match up once I get myself established but I can take some time to actually win.
I could also have possibly sequenced my plays better in the match against Steve (round three, loss), though it was a very difficult matchup for me as he was ripping live off so many draws in the late game as soon as he was top decking. Whilst I know that the Mono-Red matchup is winnable as I have won 2 out of 3 matches against the deck, it is still an unusual one as it’s a fast deck that the best plan against it is just to plain race.
I do have a tendency to hold off a little when I have the combo to make sure that it sticks. Not having any other win conditions in my deck makes me a little paranoid about going off too soon and trying it against Stu (round two, draw) when I fizzled meant that he was able to get what was effectively a free win against me. I will be putting in some other method of winning the game in for my next tournament, I’m not sure exactly what yet but I would want it to be another big one.
Join me back here next Thursday for some more Eternal Magic shenanigans as we get ever closer to the mtgUK Eternal National Championships. Don’t forget to preregister for a discount, and entering all three events will give you an even bigger discount on the prices individually. We also happy to announce that due to the expected turnout of the events, the Vintage and the Legacy Championships will be held at a bigger venue, which is just around the corner from the shop. The venue address is:
The Angel Centre
14 Angel Place
This venue is literally around the corner from the shop itself and will enable us all to sit comfortably with plenty of space and run a plethora of side-events like drafts of Modern Masters 2 and 8-man queues for whatever formats you wants us to run. Please note that the Super FNM (Friday) and the Modern Championship (Monday) will still be ran at the shop itself.
Community Question: How do you build a deck to attack a specific metagame?
As always, thanks for reading.