My First Legacy Event, What I Learnt and What I’ll Do Differently Next Time
Legacy is a format that a lot of Magic players want to play but can’t afford. I’ve recently been lucky enough to find a deck I love, which is on the lower end of the budget for Legacy decks and that can compete with the other tier one decks in the format.
Say hello to my new best friend:
As you’ll know if you’ve read my other articles, Commander is probably my favourite format. It’s the one I write about the most, I think it’s a great entry level format for new players while also having the ceiling for extremely competitive playgroups. But most importantly, the most fun I’ve had playing Magic has been around a table with some friends, a few drinks and Commander. As you’ll also no doubt know, Griselbrand is banned in Commander. One of the reasons I play Modern, Legacy and even built my cube is to play this card. Not only is it a 7/7 flying, lifelink demon but he also has one of, if not the most powerful ability on any creature ever printed – ”Pay 7 Life: Draw 7 Cards”.
So, clearly, I’m playing some Griselbrand deck in Legacy, that much is clear. But what’s better than a 7/7 flying lifelink for eight mana? A 7/7 flying lifelink for one mana.
The only issue with the format is that it’s VERY hard to get to play it consistently. That’s where the crux of this article really comes in. London Legacy Monthly, a Community Organised monthly tournament, which even has Legacy staples for the top 8. I’ve been lurking around their Facebook group waiting to finally build my Legacy deck, and that moment came this month. I finally got my last dual land and went up to Escape Sports Bar near Euston for this month’s event. Here’s the decklist I ran yesterday, I’ll go over some changes I’d make to the list in the future towards the end of the article as well as what cards stood out and those that maybe I boarded in incorrectly. If you play a lot of Legacy, please go easy on me. This was my first Legacy tournament and I hadn’t had much testing beforehand!
4x Chancellor of the Annex
1x Ashen Rider
1x Tidespout Tyrant
4x Dark Ritual
4x Cabal Therapy
4x Faithless Looting
4x Animate Dead
4x Lotus Petal
1x Marsh Flats
2x Verdant Catacombs
3x Bloodstained Mire
2x Polluted Delta
1x Pithing Needle
1x Coffin Purge
1x Ancient Grudge
3x Reverent Silence
1x Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1x Archetype of Endurance
1x Iona, Shield of Emeria
Round 1 – Grixis Painter – My Record 0-0-1
Games one and two were what you’d expect from a Legacy combo mirror match, I played an early fattie, he played an early grindstone/servant and we killed one another. The weird one was game 3 where Cryptbreaker hit the board early and forced my opponent to Transmute Artifact for Pithing Needle naming Cryptbreaker, and for Ensnaring Bridge, while my own Pithing Needle named Grindstone, preventing either of us from actually killing the other. The game went to turns and I was eventually beaten down in the air by a pair of Baleful Strix!
This round showed the real power of information in the format. In game 1, my opponent was stuck on a number of bad draws so held cards close to his chest, choosing specific lands to fetch and playing Baleful Strix make me think he was on a different archetype, meaning that for game two I sideboarded incorrectly.
Round 2 – Mud ‘Karn’ Stax – My Record 1-1-0
Game one was an early Ashen Rider killing his only permanent and then just 5 turns attacking with the Ashen Rider closed the game out. Game two he played a bunch of cards, locked me out and I conceded once I had no permanents left. Game three I played a turn 1 Griselbrand, my opponent missplayed the spell he wanted to be countered by Chancellor of the Annex (he chose to throw away the Chalice of the Void instead of the Mox Diamond) and played a turn 1 Ensnaring Bridge. With no Chalice to stop me, I drew into Entomb and a reanimation effect to exile his Ensnaring Bridge with Ashen Rider, which was met with my opponent swiftly picking up his cards and extending his hand to concede.
Round 3 – Esper ‘Aminatou’ Miracles – My Record 1-2-0
Game one I lost hard. This matchup is nearly impossible for my deck to win, since they have so many different ways to interact and being able to win through a turn 1 Griselbrand turns my strategy upside down, I basically I have to hope I don’t see this matchup. Game two I mulliganed to three cards and swiftly lost to my own deck.
Round 4 – UW Stasis – My Record 2-2-0
Weirdly this round was a bit of a blur (it’s not my fault if the event is held in a bar! I’m only human). The games kind of melded into one but overall it was basically the miracles matchup but with a lot less interaction. I sided in enchantment removal for the As Foretolds and the Stasis/Humilities and essentially the games where I had a fast start I won and the game I didn’t I lost, pretty simple all in all.
Round 5 – RBw Reanimator – My Record 3-2-0
My opponent for this round had a worse record than me, so had no chance at getting into top 16. He immediately conceded but we decided to play out the round anyway. Long story short, he was on the play game one and won, I was on the play game two but had a slow start and not many reanimation spells, so I was crushed under a mountain of value from my opponent.
Round 6 – UW Miracles – My Record 3-3-0
Another Miracles matchup, this one more of a stock list. This matchup is, as mentioned before, just a horrible matchup. Game one I lost to interaction, game two I kept a perfect hand, Griselbrand, Lotus Petal, Unmask to discard Griselbrand for free and two Animate Deads (one to exile to Unmask, one to reanimate Griselbrand). Even though I knew my opponent would have interaction for my graveyard, there is no scenario in which I mulligan this hand, as it is everything my deck wants to do, I merely have to pull the trigger and hope I’m wrong about the interaction. I discarded Griselbrand and my Animate Dead was met with a Surgical Extraction. I played the rest of the game out just in case but was slowly killed by an Ambush Viper (AKA Snapcaster Mage).
So what did I learn from this event? Firstly, the Legacy community are fantastic. Something I’ve learnt from playing almost only Commander is that the people you play with can make all the difference. Luckily the majority of Commander games I’ve played, be it at my LGS or at bigger events like GPs have been fantastic with a few being unfun due to power level differences but never due to people. With this in mind, everyone I played with was incredibly nice, patient and understanding since it was my first tournament allowing me time to think over each of my decisions and never pushing me to hurry up. This definitely added to the environment and made me feel like I’d been playing with these people forever. If you’re looking for a great Magic community, these guys are amazing.
Secondly, Legacy is not the same as Modern (I mean obviously right??). A lot of people see all of the powerful decks in Legacy and think that the games must be over in one or two turns. While that’s true some of the time, the card pool in the format is so vast that there are outs to almost every situation, one of the things that makes this format so fantastic. On top of that small advantages make such a difference that playing out a game that you know you’ve lost is worth it just for the information.
Another difference is the way that you play the cards. In Modern, if I get a Griselbrand into play I spend all my life to draw as many cards as possible with the hope of getting a combo kill that turn or the next, in Legacy you have to take a much more conservative approach. If I get a Griselbrand into play turn one I often won’t draw any cards, and if I do it’ll only be to get an Unmask or something similar to take apart my opponent’s hand. Where a turn two Griselbrand in Modern is a win on the spot, in Legacy you still have to go to combat a few times to actually win the game, giving your opponent a number of draw steps to be able to draw an out (in this case normally Swords to Plowshares or Karakas).
Finally, Ashen Rider. Kind of an unassuming card from Theros block, this card was a powerhouse in every game I played it. Sometimes winning the game single handedly, other times allowing the other huge creatures to close out the game. If you get a chance to play this card, be it in Commander, cube or even Legacy, I highly recommend it.
P.S. – Don’t forget pregame effects. Luckily I didn’t lose any games to it last night but I definitely did in testing!
The top 3 cards that performed far and beyond my expections (again from the perspective of a new Legacy player, so some of these may be obvious):
3. Cabal Therapy – Probably one of the hardest cards to play in the format (up there with Brainstorm, in my opinion) and everyone who uses it recommends having a ton of experience with the format before playing it. That being said, I figured I’d throw myself into the deep end and play it. I hit a couple of Force of Wills with it but a lot of those games I was behind anyway and lost. The most effective application was targeting myself and using it to discard a creature to Reanimate or Exhume early on. Very versatile card, but I need a lot more practice with it and need to learn what are the best cards to name when targeting opponents (probably worse in game 1 than game 2, but I still tended to cut a couple when sideboarding).
2. Ashen Rider – I’ve already spoken about this briefly. Truly one of the best cards in the deck. Being able to blow up your opponent’s only permanent and then killing them with a 5/5 flier, being able to use it to flashback Cabal Therapy and kill another permanent or, something I wanted to do but didn’t get to, combine it with Tidespout Tyrant and Animate Dead to repeatedly exile all of your opponent’s permanents (There is a finite amount of fun in a game and I want to have all of it).
1. Cryptbreaker – A weird one I saw on a Channel Fireball article a friend linked me. A lot of decks used to run Pack Rat as their answer to graveyard hate, however Cryptbreaker seems to be the new spice. Being one turn quicker down as well as being able to activate a turn earlier and giving you the added benefit of drawing cards in weird situations this card, like the other cards that I found to be better than I originally thought, is just incredibly versatile and offers a lot of power through different avenues. Unfortunately due to a combination of Pithing Needles and Ensnaring Bridges this card didn’t quite go all the way in the games where I played it, but I think it certainly has the potentially to win those post board games full of hate for the mainboard.
In terms of changes I’d make there isn’t a lot. I think that the big one is that I would cut Abrade from my sideboard and replace it with either another reanimation target or another cheap flashback, silver bullet-type spell. While Abrade is powerful, again because of versatility, it sometimes felt just worse than maybe an extra copy of Ancient Grudge or some kind of creature that could do a similar job. I was thinking of playing Archon of Valor’s Reach as an answer to some fringe decks but was convinced otherwise when people said that Iona does the same job but better. In the grand scheme of things I agree. Most decks win or interact with you through a single colour, however my first two rounds were against colourless artifact decks where Archon of Valor’s reach would have excelled and most likely made me win the first round.
Legacy may be seen as something that’s restrictive because of the high price tag but the top seed going into top 8 in this event was actually playing UB Death’s Shadow with shock lands. Anything is possible in Magic. As well as this, there were so many sweet fringe decks, I’ve already mentioned the Karn Stax deck but there was also an Affinity-ish deck that was running Myr Enforcer with Birthing Pod to power into an early Griselbrand as well as Padeem (I assume in the sideboard, but who knows!).
Again I’d like to thank the Southern London Legacy community as well as Thomas Kellock & Callum Smith for organising this event. If Legacy is something that interests you and you don’t want to pay hundreds of pounds for dual lands, come along and see if you can win some. I’ll definitely be going next month, probably running back the list above or maybe I’ll play something a little spicier like going back to my Commander roots with a singleton value midrange deck- or I might just play my modern deck, who knows! (Probably this same RB reanimator list. With no DRS I can freely slam turn 1 Griselbrand all day). Their website is over at https://www.londonlegacymonthly.com/ if you’re interested have a look at the past events and see if it’s something you’d be interested in, and if you come down let me know and I’ll be happy to do some testing or play some Commander when I inevitably scrub out of the main event!
Oh also we drafted a cube and Griselbrand was my second pick, leading me to force reanimator as hard as I possibly could (Gifts Ungiven & Unburial Rites are a match made in heaven). I just can’t stop myself from playing this card at every possible opportunity. I’ve play it in Modern, Legacy, Cube…. Canadian Highlander next?!
Hope you enjoyed this take on a Legacy event from someone new to the format.
Thanks for reading,