With the Ragavan ban last month, I wrote an article tracking where the Legacy metagame was at. Looking at the events that have occurred, things have developed since then and it seemed like it was about time to write a follow-up to that, so that’s what I’m going to do this week. I think things have solidified a bit more and there has actually been a reasonable amount of churn occurring, which is a good sign for the format. Covering it now will hopefully provide an effective overview for those looking to pick a deck for some upcoming events. I didn’t write many of these in the Ragavan format, since there was nothing interesting to say week-in and week-out. Hopefully this format will keep some level of flux and I’ll have reason to update this in a few weeks.
This should come across as a surprise to no one. This was the level zero archetype that everyone expected and it has certainly made a huge impact on the format. Most players have settled on a “stock” list, myself included, and the deck has felt excellent (even placing me at the top of the trophy board on Magic Online as I write this).
I think the most pertinent question is whether this deck is too much for the format. My answer is a cop out: yes and no. I do think it’s a bit too represented at the top of the events so far. However, that has basically always been true of Delver in every Legacy format. As I have mentioned previously, I don’t think of this as a bad thing (in fact, I think it’s a good thing), as Delver does lend itself to interactive, interesting games. Could they ban something else? Sure, that would probably be fine. However, honestly I’ve been loving this currently Legacy format and it’s been a delight to not be confronted with incessant ban talk. I think I’m going to enjoy this format for a while and continue to have a positive outlook.
A month ago, I was discussing control from the perspective of having a lot of different viable variations. While that is certainly still true (in fact, we have even seen a resurgence of Grixis Control since the release of Kamigawa), Jeskai has proven to be the most popular option. Having a glut of cheap, white answers (that actually answer the bulk of the threats consistently), backed up by a great mana base and potent engines go a long way. Teferi is a huge game in control mirrors and having a combo kill (Day’s Undoing + Hullbreacher) is really proving to be great against a variety of strategies. I don’t at all think other control decks can’t shine, but Jeskai really has been putting up some impressive results.
I think Jeskai becoming the de facto control deck has had a significant impact on the metagame. We saw a dominant performance by Death and Taxes early on, but Jeskai is much more well-suited to battle against them than Four-Color Control, which may contribute to a downtick in Death and Taxes. In addition, I wouldn’t be too surprised if this is influencing the presence of certain combo decks, namely Doomsday, because Hullbreacher/Narset, Parter of Veils is far more effective than a card like Uro in that matchup. Either way, I think Jeskai is the control deck to beat at the moment and you should adjust accordingly.
Currently, 8-Cast is one of the archetypes that has the most hype around it. This is primarily a result of Kappa Cannoneer being printed, which is an incredible card in the archetype. It provides resilience to the usual anti-artifact hate, while also acting as a haymaker win condition that most decks can’t kill very easily. Unfortunately, this archetype is currently being gated off for monetary reasons, since Cannoneer is among the most (if not the most) expensive cards on Magic Online right now. This has a two-fold effect: the deck is underrepresented and, as a result, hate against the archetype is a bit lower. I think 8-Cast is one of the most powerful decks in the format right now, so I expect its presence to tick up quite a bit as Cannoneer becomes more affordable, so make sure you’re packing cards like Hurkyl’s Recall when the time comes.
Last month, I talked about how combo was poised for a comeback and this seems to have mostly borne out. Most notably, we have seen a reasonable uptick in ANT as a viable choice, which I am personally happy to see. While it hasn’t been dominating the field perse (its most notable finish has been top 8’ing a Challenge), it’s presence at all is more than we saw with Ragavan around. Personally, I have played against it a number of times in Leagues and have felt like it was an uphill battle for me.
ANT is perfectly set up to take advantage of the Delver decks at the moment, since Delver is built to take advantage of slower cards, like Expressive Iteration, and thus plays fewer soft counters than almost ever before. In addition, while cards like Hullbreacher are effective at times, this deck doesn’t rely on card draw to actually combo off (unlike Doomsday, for instance) so ANT is likely a bit better suited against Jeskai right now. On top of that, ANT has always been pretty effective at dismantling decks relying on counter magic alone and most of the blue decks aren’t really diversifying their plans (with cards like Thoughtseize, Veil of Summer and hate bears). I think ANT is looking to be a good metagame choice for the near future and think it may require some more dedicated space if it continues to trend upward.
Lands has always been known for being a potent choice in a field of Delver and this field is certainly dominated by Delver. This current iteration of Lands is among the most powerful versions of all time and it has a wide-range of plans it can enact which make counter play rather difficult. While Lands has been putting up some great results since the ban, it remains a somewhat exploitable archetype if there is metagame adaptation. Combo decks, namely Doomsday, are still difficult to play against (although Endurance has made that matchup much better), and even decks like Jeskai Day’s Undoing can be a challenge, since they have a ton of effective answers and problematic cards. I think Lands is still overall a good choice because Delver is so prominent, but you should be aware of the holes that exist in the strategy.
As always, I don’t think these are the only viable decks, just the decks that I think are either trending upward currently, or have already been putting up a great showing in Legacy. In spite of the relatively large number of Delver decks, I think this format has a reasonable amount of churn in it and I think the metagame can shift in a couple of different directions depending on how things play out.
I think GW Depths remains a really consistent performer that I’d be happy to play in an event. The aforementioned Death and Taxes has fallen off a bit, but it’s still an incredible deck that still has the ability to win any given event, especially if the metagame is ripe for it. Doomsday hasn’t been performing quite as well lately, but I still think it’s among the best decks in the format, so that probably won’t last long.
I’ve been quite happy with the format, honestly. I do think some events have a bit more Delver representation than I would like, but the games are fun and the metagame feels quite a bit more diverse than it did under Ragavan. I’m going to continue to closely monitor the format and I’ll provide another metagame update in the upcoming weeks, but I remain fairly pleased with where we’re at.